Despite widespread euphoria and celebration in Hong Kong on hearing the news that jailed activist Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in October, it would be hard to argue that the spontaneous popping of champagne outside the central government's liaison office was a simple celebration. Given the sensitivity of Beijing's stance towards this particular award, any public assembly outside the symbolic representative of the central government has an air of political confrontation.
The spraying of a liaison office guard with champagne, accidental or otherwise, by protestor Ip Ho-yee was therefore a careless and perhaps an immature act executed in the midst of a de facto protest. Any celebration or protest must be conducted without disturbing the personal space of others.
But if Ip is guilty of any crime it is for inconsiderate and puerile behaviour. Every night in the bars of Lan Kwai Fong and Wan Chai drinks are spilt, which may even result in some physical contact between the aggrieved parties. Such situations can easily be resolved through some mediation and warnings to the parties not to cause a public nuisance. If police officers had to resort to the most extreme measure of filing charges and initiating prosecution of all such incidents, our law enforcement agencies and the judiciary would be needlessly burdened.
Fortunately common sense finally prevailed and the Department of Justice decided against prosecution. For if this prosecution had gone ahead, questions would no doubt be raised as to why this instance of beverage spillage and not all other instances of beverage spillage was being prosecuted. The inference that would be drawn would be because the liaison office in Hong Kong was being given special status and that the most extreme measures were being used against protestors sympathising with Liu. All relevant authorities must do everything they can to ensure our law enforcement authorities do nothing to fuel suspicions that they can be used as a political tool.