Hong Kong residents have plenty of reasons to feel proud of the city they call home and effective rule of law is no doubt one of the main reasons for many if not all. That is why so many locals went on social media to cheer the guilty verdict by the District Court Tuesday on a range of criminal charges against nine of the leading figures in the 79-day illegal campaign of “Occupy Central”, which caused huge losses to the SAR.
The guilty verdict was widely considered long overdue but most people knew the day of reckoning was coming. Many publicly condemned the criminal acts by some “Occupiers” in the early days of the illegal movement. This was in sharp contrast to the hypocrisy displayed by some Western governments and politicians in encouraging such wanton challenges to Hong Kong’s rule of law — using concern about individual rights and freedoms as an excuse for illegal behavior.
Today, few if any still remember how the Western pro-democracy camp celebrated the Umbrella Movement, but people cannot but compare the recent and often violent yellow-jacket protestors in some European cities to the aggressive protesters in Hong Kong more than four years ago. Many of the demonstrators in Europe were arrested and charged with offenses such as reckless endangerment, vandalism and even arson in the wake of heavy-handed responses by local riot police and even the military.
That is a perfect reason for the European Commission and European Parliament, among other symbols of Western power, to refrain from joining the opposition camp in Hong Kong in labeling the “Occupy”-related cases “political prosecution”. It is ironic and frustrating that some Western governments tend to let politics override their better judgement when a Hong Kong court finds some opposition figures guilty of breaking Hong Kong laws and punishes them accordingly. In so doing, they automatically label themselves as hypocrites.
“Occupy Central” was an illegal movement used by its leaders to take Hong Kong’s stability and prosperity hostage for a political ransom, which was the kind of universal suffrage to their liking. However, the leaders who have been found guilty of various criminal offenses are not being held responsible for their political beliefs. Their main mistake was assuming their political end justified the illegal means to achieve it. After all, they knew criminal prosecution and even prison were possible outcomes when they gambled on “civil disobedience” to achieve their ends. Now they may want to eat their own words but it’s too late. If you play with fire it’s only a matter of time before you get burned.
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