My Take

Taiwan is sending wrong message about Hong Kong’s rule of law

By sheltering fugitive Lee Sin-yi, who has been charged with rioting, and forming an alliance with pan-democrats, some on the island are undermining our well-recognised and hard-earned core strengths

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 June, 2017, 2:13am
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 June, 2017, 2:13am

Some political groups in Taiwan are helping to turn a Hong Kong fugitive into a human rights claimant. They are, in effect, undermining the well-earned reputation of the city’s judicial independence.

Lee Sin-yi, 18, who allegedly took part in the Lunar New Year riot in Mong Kok last year, has been charged with rioting and assaults against police. She jumped bail and escaped to Taiwan. A court has issued a warrant for her arrest.

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A simple case of absconding? Not according to some Taiwanese activists. New Power Party legislator Huang Kuo-chang, who has been briefing reporters about the case, said several Taiwan-based human rights groups had been helping Lee.

But why? She is clearly not a dissident, nor is there any evidence that her civil and legal rights may be violated under Hong Kong’s judicial system. The young woman made a terrible mistake but now refuses to face the music. Yet, some groups in Taiwan are deliberately misrepresenting her situation as a human rights case.

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Huang and other members of his pro-independence party have formed the Taiwan Congressional Hong Kong Caucus, which is allied with pan-democratic lawmakers and activists such as Nathan Law Kwun-chung, Raymond Chan Chi-chuen, Eddie Chu Hoi-dick, Joshua Wong Chi-fung and Alex Chow Yong-kang. The caucus is pushing for legal protocol to be set up in Taiwan for Hong Kong and Macau people who may need to seek political asylum. Do they really think people in both places are facing persecution and need to flee like Lee?

A fugitive is being turned into a cause celebre. This picture is so wrong on so many levels.

It sends a message to young people in Hong Kong that it’s okay to behave violently and lawlessly – and to refuse to face legal consequences – so long as you claim to take an anti-government stance.

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It sends a message that our judiciary is not independent but politically compromised, and so cannot be trusted.

It sends a message that our city is not a free society but runs on a system of repression. As a result, any normally legitimate law enforcement or prosecution may be in danger of being dismissed as an act of political persecution so long as it suits someone’s political agenda.

If the pan-democrats really stand for the rule of law and judicial independence, now is the time to speak up.