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  • Sep 22, 2014
  • Updated: 5:16pm
CommentInsight & Opinion

Hong Kong's right of protest is tarnished by violence

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 January, 2013, 3:17am

Our fine tradition of staging peaceful and orderly demonstrations has been called into question once again. On Sunday, a march in support of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying turned rowdy, with individual participants clashing with some anti-Leung activists. Television footage showed two journalists covering the event in Victoria Park were also mobbed by angry protesters. With both camps are taking to the streets again today, cool heads are needed to avoid further stand-offs and violence.

The rallies and demonstrations today are expected to be even more antagonistic in that the chief executive's opponents and supporters are seeking to drown out each other with a high turnout. The pro-Leung groups, just like the opposition, are equally entitled to demonstrate their support for the city's beleaguered leader. Hong Kong, after all, is a pluralistic and free society. There are people who question the chief executive's integrity in the wake of his illegal structures scandal and want him to step down. At the same time, there are those who are tired of political bickering and are eager to move forward.

Both groups have the same right to express their views under the Basic Law. However, that right must be exercised in a peaceful and orderly manner. No matter how strongly the rivals disagree with each other, they are required to abide by the law. The use of force is unlikely to win them any sympathy. Confrontational tactics should be avoided. Violence must be condemned and punished accordingly.

The right to demonstrate is one of our freedoms, guaranteed by the mini-constitution. While its exercise should not be subject to unreasonable curbs, there is a clear line between peaceful protest and violence that tarnishes that right. It is imperative today for protesters to stay calm while getting their message across. The police, too, should exercise restraint when facilitating the events.

We appeal to all to work together to uphold our fine traditions in staging peaceful demonstrations.


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This article is now closed to comments

Dai Muff
There was no violence in these marches until the paid marchers came out. SCMP, are you going to leave it entirely to sections of the Chinese press and internet to do the job we pay a subscription to you to do?
what a shame that the SCMP is too gutless to mention the aggressors are those in favour of CY Leung. HK has always enjoyed a peaceful protest culture until these barbaric demonstrators who receive bribes from the CCP come out shouting obscenities and launching physical attacks against the peaceful protesters. SCMP, I know you have sold out to Beijing already, but please at least get the facts right before trying (pathetically) to create an impression that anti-CY Leung protestors are the instigators of these barbaric acts. They are victims.
Communists and autocratic governments around the world use violence and intimidation to quash political discourse. I think that the tone of this opinion piece is somewhat dishonest in that its premise that "Our fine tradition of staging peaceful and orderly demonstrations has been called into question once again." There are unfortunate individuals that take liberties and folks like you hold the peaceful people to a higher standard than the pro-government thugs that marred the proceedings. As of late, it appears to this reader that the SCMP is also not to be trusted in doing their job of reporting news without political bias, so please be careful with your tarnished reputation.
hard times !
it is learnt that during the pro-leung march on December 30th, two reporters were beaten by pro-leung elements and while the marchers walked past Sogo Department Store, a middle-aged marcher rushed across the road, trying to grab the former Colonial flag from a protesting youngster., They scuffled.When have our peaceful marches deterioriate into such a nasty ugly scene.I clearly remember in 2003, even the over-500,000 people's grand march against Tung Chee-hwa's poor rule and Articel 23 created no chaos and the two million-people marches in 1989 protesting the Beijing massacre were also carried out peacefully.But this time, just before the start of the march, two 'Now' cameramen were punched and ...These barbaruous nasty guys who support the Big Liar are nothing but garbage themselves only !


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