Many of Hong Kong's laws are ignored or enforced in arbitrary manner
I represent an organisation involved in the recycling sector.
While researching Hong Kong's man-made waste and environmental problems, I have been shocked to discover the pervasive official state of lawlessness.
One definition of anarchy is not a country without laws, but one with many laws that are ignored, unenforced or enforced in an arbitrary, peremptory and capricious manner. This is a perfect description of the decayed state of the rule of law in Hong Kong, where laws are honoured "more in the breach than the observance".
The catalogue of enforcement failures includes widespread and blatant illegal structures, agricultural land misuse, construction and demolition waste dumping, illegal gambling, sales of untaxed, smuggled cigarettes, and domestic helper exploitation and abuse, to name but a few. The list is seemingly endless and extends far beneath the veneer of officialdom and propriety.
The rule of law is touted as one of Hong Kong's core values and its primary advantage over the mainland. However, in a recent survey, the city fell below the mainland in fraud rankings. This situation must be a shock for the country's new leadership.
A definition of the rule of law is that all men are equal before the law and the acts of responsible public officials in carrying out government orders are cognisable in the ordinary courts of law. The Independent Commission Against Corruption has had its reputation dented by the case of its ex-chief Timothy Tong. It and the Hong Kong Police Force must take some responsibility for a failure to apply, enforce and uphold some of our laws.
The law is simply not being properly enforced. This has allowed and is continuing to allow the catalogue of overt illegal acts I listed to take place, without any interference, hindrance or rebuke from regulatory persons and institutions. This flagrant omission and failure to act makes these principal or accessory actors directly responsible for the ongoing perpetration and commission of lawlessness.
Who is accountable and liable for this grave situation? Is it the secretary for justice, the police commissioner, the secretary for security, the chief executive, or all them?
I would welcome a reply from one or all of them, through these columns.
I would also be interested to hear from the judiciary and legal profession about this severe state of lawlessness. The current total silence implicates everyone.
Serafina Cheung So-hing, secretary, Anesidora Nature and Eco Education Association Ltd