• Sat
  • Dec 20, 2014
  • Updated: 8:25pm
My Take
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 July, 2014, 5:09am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 July, 2014, 5:18am

Benny Tai's reprehensible mutiny call to police

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.


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This article is now closed to comments

I suggest Mr. Lo take an ethics subject to realise that yes, it is indeed preferable to question all orders from above before following blindly. A simple read of history backs Mr. Tai's wisdom on this issue.
I am not a supporter of Occupy Central but Mr, Lo, you are a dangerous individual. People should not follow orders if they are morally reprehensible. One, oft used excuse from war criminals - Germany and Japan in the 30s and 40s or those committing crimes under totalitarian regimes - Argentina in the 70s and 80s is that they 'are just following orders'. Let's hope it doesn't become too extreme, but let's also hope that if we reach crunch point that officers are able to make informed morally acceptable decisions.
John Adams
I fully agree with Mr Alex Lo !
"professor" Tai has gone far beyond the pale on this.
He has finally shown his true colors, which are clearly not democracy but rather ANARCHY.
I completely concur Alex! Dr. Tai has certainly revealed his true colours and one that cannot be trusted anymore with regard to the well-being of Hong Kong society.
Full marks on this one Alex. Considering Benny Tai's profession, I cannot help but wondering, what has gotten into him?
Oh STFU, Alex. Playing for the support of frontline law enforcers is a common tactic in civil disobedience campaigns, where it seems like a plausible strategy. Gandhi did it; civil rights marchers in the American south not so much, given the virulent hatred they faced.
Prof. Tai's outreach to the HK police rank and file actually registers a belief that they haven't been brainwashed. Here's hoping it's true.
Hong Kong is a prosperous, free and an internationally recognised place that provides an environment to carry out economic and cultural activities. The Hong Kong Police Force is known to be clean and has been seen to maintain law and order against extremist trying to provoke the police to use force in order that they may complain against the unnecessary use of force. In fact the only people that use unnecessary force that I can see from news broadcast are the protesters. I support the freedom to protest in a peaceful way. Hong Kong is not like Germany and Japan in the Second World War where the objective was world domination or in the Argentine where the suppression of the people was for personal gain. The fact that Benny Tai is still an Associate Professor in the University is a living proof of Hong Kong,s system. So for Benny to urge the police not to follow orders and to start a mutiny is wrong. I am a normal citizen who has since now voted for a Democratic Party but would not like to live in a society where law and order has broken down as it would have if the police follow his advice. We have the finest in Asia and I urge our finest to keep up the good work in maintaining law and order.
"Just following orders" has been the cause of untold horrors and atrocities especially when they come from corrupt and morally bankrupt governments. The CCCP has threatened the use of the PLA to contain protestors, which is *exactly* what happened in Tiananmen so many years ago and continues to happen on a monthly if not weekly basis in every province in China.
If only more PLA members spoke up against their government then. The massacre would have been avoided, and China's global standing would no longer take a hit every June 4th, every year.
Tai's quote is not mutinous, it does it have to be!
The actual offence is "Disaffection Amongst Members of Police Force" and so the level of culpability is set much lower.
The Oxford Dictionary defines 'disaffection' as 'disloyalty', whilst 'mutiny' is described as 'open revolt'. So 'verbal urging' commits the offence!
The actual section in HK law is Cap. 232 of the Police Force Ordinance:
"Section: 62 Penalty on persons causing disaffection in police force
If any person causes, or attempts to cause, or does any act calculated to cause disaffection amongst the members of the police force, or induces, or attempts to induce, or does any act calculated to induce any member of the police force to withhold his services or to commit breaches of discipline, he shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine of $2000 and to imprisonment for 2 years"
Whilst a police officer is required to obey all lawful orders of his superior officers:
"Section: 30 Police officers to obey lawful orders
Every police officer shall obey all lawful orders of his superior officers whether given verbally or in writing and shall obey and conform to police regulations and orders made under this Ordinance"
So urging police officers to "think, as citizens etc, etc" is naive at best and stupidity at worst. Don't forget this man is employed in the Law Dept of HKU! He should know better!
Benny ought to be smeared onto the road. Unpleasant but at least he'll remain in the same place rather than run around bothering people and influencing mindless youths.




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