Justice seen to be done over Mong Kok despite claims of opposition

Former Hong Kong governor Chris Patten is just one of those to have criticised the conviction and jailing of Edward Leung Tin-kei, but the rule of law has been upheld

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 June, 2018, 4:28am
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 June, 2018, 4:28am

For someone who claims to defend the interests of Hong Kong, Chris Patten is doing his best to undermine the credibility and international standing of our judges.

After independence advocate Edward Leung Tin-kei was sentenced to six years in jail for his part in the 2016 Mong Kok riot, the last British governor cast doubt on the validity of his prosecution and claimed his conviction amounted to an abuse of the Public Order Ordinance.

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Patten said the law was vaguely worded and so was open to abuse. But for argument’s sake, even if public prosecutors were tainted, would Patten allege the same about the judge in the case, Madam Justice Anthea Pang Po-kam?

Was Pang not capable or independent enough to make a valid judgment on the basis of the law as she understood it?

If so, our opposition’s defenders of the rule of law and their foreign supporters such as Patten should say it out aloud rather than making insinuations and unfounded claims.

Leung’s defence lawyer said he was planning an appeal against the sentence. Shouldn’t we let a higher court take care of it? Isn’t this how the law is supposed to work?

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It’s becoming a pattern with the opposition. Those who shout loudest about the rule of law and the importance of judicial independence are the first to denounce judges whose rulings didn’t go the way they wanted.

It has been the same with Patten. When former student leaders Joshua Wong Chi-fung, Nathan Law Kwun-chung and Alex Chow Yong-kang were jailed last year for their parts in clashes that precipitated the Occupy protests, Patten was among foreign politicians and activists to demand the trio be released.

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Did they expect the Hong Kong government to just open the prison cells despite the court-imposed sentences?

I would worry about the rule of law if it did that under international pressure.

In any case, those three won in the Court of Final Appeal and were set free. At least the government and its political allies didn’t fume and denounce the top judges who quashed their jail terms.

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In their own echo chamber, the opposition and their supporters have constructed a narrative according to which there was no riot on the night of February 8 and 9 in 2016, so those convicted and sentenced on rioting charges were being treated unjustly.

They can tell whatever story they like. After all, it’s a free city.