My Take

Ken Tsang and his supporters make a mockery of the rule of law

Boos, chants and insulting the judge – in court! – show that our radical activists believe that only they are right and everyone else be damned

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 31 May, 2016, 10:45pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 31 May, 2016, 10:45pm

For many political activists these days, press freedom is only for those who share their viewpoints. Likewise, those who speak loudest for judicial independence feel no compunction openly denouncing judges who deliver judgments contrary to their demands and expectations.

The behaviour of the supporters of Civic Party activist Ken Tsang Kin-chiu at his court sentencing this week was an utter disgrace. On hearing their hero being jailed for five weeks, the dozens of supporters and activists booed and shouted at principal magistrate Peter Law Tak-chuen.

Activist Ken Tsang gets five weeks in jail for assaulting police and resisting arrest during Occupy protest

The guy was convicted for assaulting police officers during the Occupy protests in October 2014 by splashing a foul-smelling liquid on them and for resisting arrest. These are serious offences that usually carry mandatory jail sentences upon conviction. So the magistrate actually didn’t have much of a choice. But he immediately granted Tsang bail of HK$300 pending an appeal.

All things considered, this is an extremely lenient and considerate judge. Still, Tsang’s supporters screamed and insulted the judge and other police officers – inside the court. There were shouts of “no justice”, “drop dead you dog judge” (as in a corrupt judge), “maladministration of justice”, and “drop dead, your whole family”. The last was apparently directed at the families of police officers at the scene.

No need for media to hand over raw footage of confrontation between Ken Tsang and police, rules Hong Kong judge

These people clearly showed a deep contempt of court, but were allowed to walk away. As I said, this judge and other law officers at the court were really lenient.

As the magistrate observed, Tsang showed no remorse throughout the trial. In fact, Tsang clearly delighted in the show being put on and the high turnout of supporters each time he appeared in court. He even thanked his supporters for making him feel “strong and powerful” after the trial. Some people seem to confuse having many supporters for being in the right.

The fact that Tsang was filmed being beaten after his arrest, allegedly by a group of police officers, does not excuse his prior assaults against the police. The trial has started for the seven officers alleged to have beaten him. If convicted, they deserve to be severely punished.

But their guilt, even if proven in a court of law, does not make Tsang innocent.