• Fri
  • Aug 22, 2014
  • Updated: 7:32am
CommentInsight & Opinion

No excuse for barracks protest

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 05 January, 2014, 5:11am
UPDATED : Sunday, 05 January, 2014, 10:04am
 

Poll

  • Yes: 63%
  • No: 37%
5 Jan 2014
  • Yes
  • No
Total number of votes recorded: 207

No matter what the country, trespassing on a military base is asking for trouble. The pro-democracy activists who ignored a People's Liberation Army guard's warning and broke into the Central barracks at Admiralty on Boxing Day have committed a serious offence. Politics played a part in their actions - they were carrying colonial-era Hong Kong flags - but political groups have rightly condemned their protest. Those who have been arrested for such reckless behaviour have to be given an appropriate punishment.

Four of the mostly-young protesters have been arrested and another is being investigated. They are members of Hong Kong Comes First, a group seeking government policies that give priority to citizens. The barracks occupies a prime harbour-front site that authorities want rezoned from public open space to exclusive military use. But politics has been added to the break-in through use of the colonial flag, a symbol of the fringe pro-independence movement, and at least one of the activists was a former member of the League of Social Democrats.

But entering a military base with force is not about protecting the rights of Hong Kong people or making a political statement: purely and simply, it is breaking the law. Under the Public Order Ordinance, people who enter a "closed area" without permission face up to two years in prison. That is why, unusually, most of the pro-democracy parties and Beijing for once see eye-to-eye on an issue. The break-in has been viewed with "grave concern" by Beijing's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office while it has been condemned by pan-democrats, among them the movement's more radical elements.

Hong Kong offers people who object to government proposals, policies and decisions a multitude of ways of expressing concern. Space is provided for open and fair discussion. In the case of the Central Barracks, the Town Planning Board has for a month been holding objection hearings before it makes a decision. Instead of breaking the law, that is the route the barracks protesters should have chosen.

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14

This article is now closed to comments

nmp_inc
The gate was wide open and they walked in. They trespassed but framing it as as 'break-in' is demonizing propaganda by the SCMP. Likewise, why single out an mention one pro-democracy political party which - by your own admission - had no affiliation with the protester at the time of the civil disobedience act - which is what it was. While conducting civil disobedience in the face of security services anywhere in the world is 'dangerous' and rife with lethal potential it is also disingenuous and propaganda-like (once again) for the SCMP to omit the fact that this type of civil disobedience protest act is very common in democracies where citizens are protesting against war or the military. You might not agree with it and it is sure to irk those in Beijing but that doesn't change the fact what they did - while provocative - was nonviolent. The same cannot be said for some pro-regime associated 'civil society' groups in HK that attack the pan-democrats and religious dissidents in HK. Those SHOULD be serious offenses; even more so than simple trespass. Sorry SCMP, your red slip is showing.
robdingwall
The PLA shouldn't be in Hong Kong in the first place.
cedrovsky
Well, but if peaceful protests are ignored by Hong Kong and Chinese authorities so what Hongkongers should do then?
mdap
IDIOTS! HOW CAN A COLONIAL FLAG REPRESENT ANYTHING OTHER THAN OPPRESSION! GO BACK TO SCHOOL AND TRY EDUCATING YOURSELF - THE COLONIAL DAYS OF HONG KONG WERE THE EPITOME OF EUROPEAN DOMINANCE OVER HONG KONG PEOPLE WHO WERE TREATED AS SCUM - I AM ENGLISH, LIVED HERE FOR 24 YEARS AND I LOOK FORWARD TO HONG KONG BEING A RELEVANT CITY WITHIN A RESURGENT CHINA.
vsa1
You're English? That seems improbable! Before you encourage others to "educate themselves", perhaps you should consider a little bit of self study yourself. The oppression and dominance you seem to hate so much, also paved the way for HK to be an Asian Tiger economy. Do you think infrastructure such as roads, electricity, sewer and water build themselves? Have you ever used a government built sports facility, utilized a public hospital, exchanged currency or taken a plane? Do you live on land reclaimed by government initiative? Most people do and don't even know it. Have your children attended a public school? Surely they didn't go to the international/ESF schools. We know how much you hate Europeans. Or, are you a hypocrite?
caractacus
What a pompous, sickeningly moralising editorial. They are just kids. Let the Magistrate give them a wagging and tell them not to do it again.
sam.gillespie.184
These "kids" would have been shot under English colonial rule.
Byebye
Next, try breaking into the Police Headquarters of Hong Kong, then the Legco or the Law Court...
johnh
Four unarmed protestors "broke into" a PLA military compound? Were those armor piercing flags they were carrying?? Do tell...
amunro
We should commend the PLA for their restraint in handling these idiots. Try breaking into a US military facility.

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