My Take

If you take part in a riot, then you have to face the consequences: it’s as simple as that

So many of our protesters seem to think that prosecution means persecution, but if you break the law, you will be punished

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 18 March, 2017, 12:32am
UPDATED : Saturday, 18 March, 2017, 4:35am

The violent disturbance in Mong Kok during the Lunar New Year in 2016 was not a riot, according to the anti-government camp. Indeed, not a few pundits and lawmakers blamed Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and his government – and even Beijing – for causing the unrest.

Well, now that the court has spoken, let’s see if those who shout the loudest about the rule of law will respect it this time.

Trio jailed for three years each for taking part in Mong Kok riot

In sentencing three protesters to three years in prison each yesterday, District Court judge Sham Siu-man concluded that the defendants were all part of the riot, during which they hurled glass bottles and a bamboo stick at police.

Students Hui Ka-ki, and Mak Tsz-hei, and cook Sit Tat-wing were convicted on one joint count of riot. The judge further observed they were part of a group of 20 to 30 people at the scene who took part in an unlawful assembly, where they displayed acts of violence that amounted to a breach of the peace.

“Violence is violence,” the judge said, rebutting the defence’s claim that the defendants didn’t do it for personal gain.He also compared their actions to the riots of Vietnamese boat people in the 1990s. As it is, I find the trio’s sentences overly harsh, considering no one was injured by their actions and in light of previous sentences for the riot.

A 17-year-old was spared jail and was placed on probation for 18 months. This guy hurled a brick at a police officer and injured his knee. In another case, three men were jailed for between 21 days and 9 months for pushing a police officer, resisting arrest, and throwing plastic bottles and rubbish bin.

But a riot is a riot. What I find troubling is that many people, whether they took part in the Mong Kok riot or other violent anti-government protests, seem to mistake prosecution for persecution.

Glass bottles hurled at Hong Kong police during Mong Kok riot, court hears

Classic heroes of civil disobedience like Gandhi readily went to jail because they acknowledged they broke the law. Yet, so many of our rioters and protesters think they should not suffer any consequences or take responsibility for what they have done. And legions of pundits and lawmakers from the opposition camp are ever ready to excuse their behaviour and blame the police, the government and/or Beijing. They think that because most of them have been treated with kid gloves.