• Thu
  • Dec 25, 2014
  • Updated: 10:28am
Occupy Central
NewsHong Kong

Peaceful Occupy Central no threat to rule of law, police monitor says

Civil disobedience can show a society in order, outgoing chairman of police watchdog says

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 01 June, 2014, 4:48am
UPDATED : Sunday, 01 June, 2014, 4:48am

The Occupy Central pro-democracy movement would not damage the city's rule of law as long as it remained peaceful, the chief of the police watchdog said on his last day in office.

The statement by Jat Sew-tong, whose term as chairman of the Independent Police Complaints Council ended yesterday, follows Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's warning that Occupy Central "is definitely unlawful regardless of its motive" and law-breaking activities would not be tolerated.

"[Occupy Central] would not damage Hong Kong's rule of law," said Jat, a senior counsel who has been heading the council supervising the 28,000-strong police force since 2008.

"Even parking contraventions breach the law - but I don't think parking contraventions jeopardise the rule of law. My understanding, at least, is that Occupy Central is a peaceful [effort]."

Jat quoted a British Lord Chancellor as calling civil disobedience an excellent tradition.

It could serve to display the rule of law at work, he believed.

"Civil disobedience … with some appropriate punishment can be a manifestation of the rule of law," he said on a radio show.

Jat added that he was stating the facts, not encouraging people to join the movement.

"It is crucial that participants are clear about the legal liability of the move," he said.

The outgoing council chief is not worried about the mainland political links of his successor Larry Kwok Lam-kwong, which have led some to question the watchdog's impartiality.

Kwok, a corporate finance solicitor who chairs the transport advisory committee under the Transport and Housing Bureau, was a Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference delegate from Guangxi province for more than a decade until about a year ago.

"It doesn't matter if he is a CPPCC member," Jat said.

"It would be fairer to judge [Kwok] by his actions. The most crucial thing is how the chairman works and cooperation from other members. After all, the commission … has 24 members, with various backgrounds."

He hoped the council would examine the deteriorating ties between the police and the people, and how to simplify complaints procedures.


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This article is now closed to comments

CY Leung is getting beside himself over OC and his pronouncements on illegality. Any breaches of the law, thankfully, will be dealt with by the Judiciary not the Government.
sudo rm -f cy
The truth is, giving Occupy Central a "letter of no objection" is the *best* way to kill it. It is the threat of 10,000s of people openly defying the law together that makes OC so powerful. Make it legal and you remove its power.
Yes, it may seem like a paradox, but peaceful civil disobedience confirms the rule of law. People who understand that they may be arrested for breaking a law,and who accept that such an action may have legal consequences, but nonetheless act in the light of a greater principle they hope will come to inform a larger conception of a law, are affirming that law itself matters. And that the rule of law itself is central to democracy.


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