Hong Kong lawmaker brands British judge a ‘yellow heart’ after seven policemen are jailed
Legislator makes reference to symbolic colour of protest movement and raises question about court prejudice
A day after the justice minister warned internet users not to post abusive comments about judges, a lawmaker on Friday branded a foreign judge a “white skin with yellow heart” – symbolic colour of the Occupy Central pro-democracy movement.
Speaking in a Legislative Council debate on the city’s governance, Wong Kwok-kin of the Federation of Trade Unions touched on a court decision to jail seven police officers for two years each for beating up activist Ken Tsang Kin-chiu during a protest in 2014.
He would let the public decide if the term was “unreasonably harsh” and then said: “I would like to ask if anyone in the judiciary has been making judgments that shock the public because of their prejudice?
“Some lawmakers mentioned that those who threw bricks received a lenient sentence, while those who threw eggs were jailed. What kind of logic is this?”
Citing an old derogatory term, Wong said: “In the past, Hongkongers described ‘fake foreigners’ as people with ‘yellow skin but a white heart’, but today I have to describe a judge as a ‘white skin with yellow heart’ – the yellow of a yellow ribbon.”
Similar remarks related to the case made online on Thursday prompted Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung to warn against inappropriate criticism of the judiciary. He said there would be follow-up action.
Wong refused to say if he was pinpointing David Dufton – the British judge who sent the seven officers to prison.
“I don’t know if he would identify himself with my description. He can think about what I said.”
Wong added that he supported the police force’s plan to help the officers appeal.
“I hope the judiciary can take the initiative in correcting the fallacies in this case and be accountable to Hongkongers.”
Since Tuesday, when Dufton found the seven officers guilty of assault, there has been a mixed response on social media, with police supporters posting insulting criticism and abuse.
Former security minister Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, who is running for chief executive, said the sentence was too harsh and unfair to the officers.
Yuen said in Legco that inappropriate criticism about the judiciary must be avoided.
“It would be the liberty of people of Hong Kong and their right as guaranteed under the constitution to comment on the verdicts and judgments made by judges and the court. But ... in exercising such constitutional right people should do it responsibly,” he said.
“Residents must also understand that the court is responsible for making judgments based on evidence and laws. Its judgment did not negate the work of the police force.”
He said the judiciary was concerned about some social media comments on the case and had referred them to the Department of Justice for follow-up action.
Police Commissioner Stephen Lo Wai-chung said the court ruling had left him with a heavy heart and he had approved a move by police unions to raise money to support the officers while an appeal was considered.
“I can totally understand why my colleagues are disappointed and frustrated by the court verdict. I will actively stay in touch and close contact with the unions, the seven officers and their families, and support them all round,” Lo said.
He did not reply when asked if he would apologise to the public for the wrongdoings of the seven.