My Take

Revealed: the double standard of Hong Kong’s political stone throwers

The opposition delights in highlighting the ill-advised remarks of rivals, but is not so keen to do when its members make comments in poor taste

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 23 September, 2017, 3:11am
UPDATED : Saturday, 23 September, 2017, 3:11am

The lenient sentencing of two former University of Hong Kong student leaders has brought to a satisfactory end a highly divisive case for all sides concerned. But it does raise an interesting point about the opposition and its double standard.

Billy Fung Jing-en and Colman Li Fung-kei showed remorse and acknowledged wrongdoing for helping to lay siege to a university council meeting. Officials, including some council members who were targeted in the rowdy protest, pleaded for leniency for the pair.

Victim among hundreds to support former student leaders Billy Fung and Colman Li

Instead of imposing custodial sentences, the judge handed down community service orders. The case shows how reconciliation is possible through our courts, even for a polarised community like ours.

It is useful, though, to recall one of the offending acts of Fung, especially in light of the current row over the “kill without mercy” remark of government-friendly lawmaker Junius Ho Kwan-yiu against pro-independence activists.

The opposition has made much of Ho’s Ill-advised remark by staging rallies and filing complaints to the police and the Law Society. Ho is a lawyer.

Yet, Fung said something similar when he rallied protesters to prevent HKU council chairman Arthur Li Kwok-cheung from leaving after a meeting in January last year. He shouted a slang saying in Cantonese, which roughly means “strike him dead”. This was serious enough for the judge to raise it during court proceedings, though he concluded Fung didn’t mean to cause Li physical harm.

It’s interesting that opposition members and lawmakers never said a word when Fung made the threat under highly volatile circumstances, with the potential for violence. By contrast, Ho made his controversial remark in front of reporters.

This double standard is par for the course for the opposition. Controversial columnist Chris Wat Wing-yin and pro-Beijing lawmaker Ann Chiang Lai-wan were both denounced by the opposition last year – the former for calling a pro-independence party “a group of mentally ill patients”, and the latter for comparing pan-democrats to “a bunch of crazies”.

Pan-democrats blast Junius Ho for saying independence activists should be ‘killed mercilessly’

Never mind that previously, former opposition lawmakers Albert Chan Wai-yip and Alan Leong Kah-kit had respectively claimed that ex-chief executive Leung Chun-ying was a mental patient and someone who suffered from psychosis. Surely their remarks were – or should have been – equally offensive to mental patients, their families and psychiatric professionals. There was, however, no complaint from their opposition colleagues. We all live in glass houses now. Some of us just throw more stones than others.