Enact Hong Kong law banning insults against police, former security chief says

Ambrose Lee, who made the call in Beijing, also says police commissioner does not have to apologise over jailing of seven officers over beating of activist

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 March, 2017, 6:39pm
UPDATED : Friday, 10 March, 2017, 11:25pm

Hong Kong’s former security chief has thrown his weight behind the idea of enacting a new law banning insulting behaviour against police officers amid escalating tension between the city’s law enforcers and members of the public.

Ambrose Lee Siu-kwong, now a Hong Kong deputy to the National People’s Congress after serving as security minister from 2003 to 2012, also said there was no need for Police Commissioner Stephen Lo Wai-chung to apologise over the case of the seven police officers, who were jailed for two years for assaulting activist Ken Tsang Kin-chiu during the Occupy protests in 2014.

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“The incident was triggered by a citizen who poured urine on the police officers,” Lee told the press on the sidelines of meetings in Beijing on Friday.

“They overreacted and indeed violated the law, but they only acted in this way after being provoked,” he said.

He was referring to the testimony of the assaulted officers, though the court only found Tsang poured liquid.

Policemen in other Western countries facing the same provocation would have reacted even more radically, he said, adding: “Shots might perhaps have been fired in the United States.”

Lee, who donated money in support of the families of the jailed officers, also backed a law to ban insulting behaviour against law enforcers, which he said existed in many countries.

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“Our police force have tried their best in [enforcing the law] but many citizens have abused their right to demonstrate and even swore at them,” he said. “The violent attacks have put the dignity and safety of police officers at stake and this is not doing Hong Kong any good.”

He denied such a law would intensify conflict with the force.

“If you do not break the law, how would it add fuel to the tension?” Lee said, adding he would leave it to the Legislative Council to decide how the law should be worded.

Lee also echoed earlier remarks by National People’s Congress chairman Zhang Dejiang, urging Hongkongers to put aside their conflicts and focus on economic development.

Lee, whose term in the National People’s Congress will end early next year, has yet to decide whether to seek re-election, saying he hoped to see more young people with stamina joining the top legislature.

Meanwhile, another NPC deputy, Michael Tien Puk-sun, commented on reports which suggested he would face big problems in seeking another term in the top legislature because of his outspoken remarks.

Tien previously publicly criticised Beijing for meddling in the chief executive election by calling on Election Committee members to vote for Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, the former chief secretary who is perceived as the central government’s preferred choice.

“Of course there are people disliking [me] because of my stance,” the New People’s Party lawmaker said. “But what I said is factual information ... They are just open secrets which everybody is trying to avoid talking about.”