Cut out wasting public funds, ‘Long Hair’
Lawmaker Leung Kwok-heung says he will continue his court battle after losing his flowing locks in jail, even though he has already been granted HK$900,000 in legal aid
There is opposition and then there is wasting taxpayers’ money. The court case by “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung against the local prison authorities for making inmates keep their hair short falls squarely in the latter category.
An appeal court has now restored power to the Correctional Services Department to cut the hair of inmates after the former pan-democrat lawmaker won his case in the first round.
Leung has vowed to fight all the way to the highest court. Let’s hope he will not.
The public legal aid service has already granted him about HK$900,000 for this legal round and the fund is now exhausted. Does Leung plan to apply for more legal aid, or is he planning to use his own money?
Let’s not waste any more public money, which may be better spent on more deserving cases.
Leung sued the department and won last year. He was upset he had to have his trademark locks cut after being jailed for criminal damage and disorderly behaviour in 2014 during a protest.
He argued that he was being sexually discriminated against under the Bill of Rights Ordinance and the Basic Law because female inmates were allowed long hair.
The court ruled in his favour. Now a higher court has restored sanity. A key argument against him in the latest appeal by the department is that societal conventions mean males and females are subject to different discipline. Men are not allowed long hair in a way comparable to women not being able to wear make-up in jail. Neither restriction amounts to direct discrimination.
What is remarkable is that Leung managed to secure almost HK$1 million in legal aid and won his case in the first court round.
He makes no pretence that he represented anyone else’s interest than his own. He didn’t bother to find out if there were other male inmates who wished to pursue a similar case. He was doing it out of pride because he had his beloved long hair cut.
Not only did his case not further any public interest, but it also worked directly against it. It was not only a waste of public money and valuable court time but, if he had won, would have opened a door for inmates to challenge prison authorities and undermine discipline.
His controversial oath-taking antics caused him to be disqualified as a lawmaker. Now he has discredited himself with his frivolous lawsuit.