My Take

Be careful what you read into news reports about Hong Kong

Recent jailings show our judiciary is still impartial and independent even though a glance at some of the world’s leading publications would suggest otherwise

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 December, 2017, 1:41am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 December, 2017, 3:25pm

A top police officer has been found guilty of assault and is facing a significant jail term in the course of carrying out his duties during the 2014 Occupy protests.

Earlier this month, four middle-aged and elderly protesters were sent to prison for assaulting disqualified lawmaker Nathan Law Kwun-chung at the airport in January.

Need I even mention the seven police officers jailed for two years each for beating up Occupy activist Ken Tsang Kin-chiu?

Does this sound like a compromised judiciary that has exchanged its independence for subservience and been sending people of conscience to jail at the bidding of the central and Hong Kong governments?

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Of course, our opposition has treated such news as par for the course and will continue to claim that the justice system is under threat.

The Western news media – the likes of such august publications as The Economist, The New York Times and Le Monde – have tried to turn a few Occupy leaders – including their go-to protest chief Joshua Wong Chi-fung – into bona fide prisoners of conscience. The New York Times even wanted to nominate them for the Nobel Peace Prize. But they will not bother to report the latest court cases. Maybe these are just not newsworthy enough for an international audience. Or maybe it doesn’t fit their preconceived editorial take on Hong Kong losing its freedoms and being shallowed up by the mainland. Who knows?

Do you think our last colonial governor, Chris Patten, will come out to praise our impartial judiciary after having bad-mouthed it with op-eds in leading publications and interviews aimed at making an international statement? Probably not. What about those British busybodies whose names no one can remember forming one concern group or another? Will they take notice that our judges may be – just may be – capable of exercising the law with at least a reasonable degree of independence and impartiality? Not likely.

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So, I wonder what sort of impressions an educated outsider who religiously reads The New York Times or Le Monde would have about Hong Kong. Here’s my guess: our judiciary is hopelessly compromised; anti-government protesters are routinely beaten up and jailed; the city is being turned into another Tibet or Xinjiang. Meanwhile, the realities of high autonomy and partial democracy are presumed to be non-existent.

I read The New York Timesevery day and those would have been my impressions if I knew nothing about the city.