Failure to enforce laws bad for society

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 May, 2014, 5:12am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 May, 2014, 5:12am

Prior to my retirement after proud service in the Royal Hong Kong Police Force all my working life, I often had to reassure my younger local colleagues that the future looked very bright under the "50 years no change" agreement.

I assured many officers that a good system had been put in place, with a good set of laws and honest people to enforce the laws, a well-trained and politically neutral civil service, with Beijing giving Hong Kong a free hand in most areas, and things could only go upward.

But I never realised how wrong I could be; the changes are drastic and there is no real excuse for them. Ex-colleagues I am in touch with have complained to me about these changes.

To these former colleagues, I apologise to you here.

I read the South China Morning Post almost daily online to keep abreast of the changes. As a former police officer, complaints about lawlessness and the inability to enforce the law are of most interest to me.

I read about complaints in the non-enforcement of the traffic laws in Central and Causeway Bay, people employed as foreign domestic helpers and working illegally as drivers, and prostitutes soliciting in the streets of Wan Chai (at least we kept them inside bars and off the streets).

And poor Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has to appear on television promos to start a consultation on whether the government should enforce the law and clear our streets of obstructions. That's poppycock.

I was in the office of the commissioner of police at 7.30am one day when then governor Murray MacLehose called and asked if he had read a letter in the Post about the problem of illegal taxis.

He gave the commissioner very little time to find out about the problem, decide how to solve it, and have the newly set up police public relations branch respond to the letter.

MacLehose would not have allowed obstructions to get out of hand to the extent that public support is needed to enforce the laws.

Today, I have yet to see any action on these complaints, nor a response in these columns.

I was overconfident when I was younger and did not believe the situation today, when people have the lack of will to do jobs that they are well paid and owe it to the public to perform.

C. Woods, Birmingham, England