My Take

Benny Tai's reprehensible mutiny call to police

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 July, 2014, 5:09am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 July, 2014, 5:18am

So much for occupying Central with peace and love! The originator of the civil disobedience movement has revealed his true colours by calling on frontline police officers to mutiny.

In an open letter to the police published in Apple Daily yesterday, the organiser, University of Hong Kong law professor Benny Tai Yiu-ting, said officers should question their superiors' orders in the event they were asked to remove Occupy protesters by force.

"When Occupy Central does happen, I hope frontline officers will think about what they will be doing before they execute their superiors' orders," he wrote. "You need to think of yourselves as citizens - think about whether those orders are good for the police, the government and Hong Kong ... Are there alternatives to reach the same goals without executing those methods?

"I am fully confident our frontline officers are intelligent and conscientious ... I hope they all understand this: before you are officers, you are citizens; before you are citizens, you are flesh and blood, people who have compassion and conscience."

I have never supported Tai's movement, but I recognise civil protests are legitimate. However, by encouraging officers not to follow orders and therefore to breach their own oath and the law under the Police Force Ordinance, Tai has gone beyond the pale and may have committed an offence.

Even more reprehensible is that Tai takes a holier-than-thou attitude, arrogating to himself and his movement all goodness and light and implying that any officers who follow orders to take action against protesters are betraying their own conscience.

No, Dr Tai, many reasonable and moral people can and do think your movement has no right to occupy public areas in our business district to advance your version of democracy. Is it fair to put such pressure on junior officers? Your movement doesn't represent seven million people in Hong Kong, as you seem to think. You may stand for some people, but not even the majority, as poll after poll have found.

The only circumstance that justifies a call to mutiny is when fighting tyranny. By any standard - be it Tai's beloved international one or not - our government, however dysfunctional and undemocratic, is not a tyranny.