Those who criticise our judges should be ashamed of themselves
On both sides of the political spectrum, our rule of law is being undermined by those who react to court judgments in a biased manner
When retired police superintendent Frankly Chu was jailed for three months for assaulting a passer-by mistaken for an Occupy protester, the worst elements of the blue-ribbon, pro-government mob were out in force denouncing the sentence. Principal Magistrate Bina Chainrai has been called by all sorts of nasty and racist names, many of which are unprintable in a family newspaper. Some are calling for an all-Chinese bench.
Chu has launched an appeal and may yet have the sentence overturned. But assuming the judgment stands, the punishment is quite lenient, considering the offence could carry a heavy sentence that counts in years rather than months. Of course, the real punishment is not the jail time, but Chu’s expected loss of his pension.
In a rare consensus, not only the yellow-ribbon media and the Bar Association but also some of the bluest pro-government news outlets such as HKG Pao and Speakout.hk have all rounded on those who attacked the judge.
Those who made the most offensive remarks may have committed contempt of court. If a few of them are ever charged, no one would shed a tear.
But the blue-ribbon mobs haven’t been the only ones going after judges. Yellow-ribbon thugs were doing the same thing when their own people were jailed. Last year, 13 pro-democracy activists were sent to prison for their violent protest against a government development plan in the northeastern New Territories. Likewise, three former student leaders of the Occupy protests had their community service penalties toughened to jail terms after government prosecutors appealed against their sentences. In response, the opposition went into a paroxysm. Some of its more uncouth supporters were calling the ethnically Chinese judges in the two cases “Chee-na men” and “communist running dogs”. Meanwhile, some of the most respected Western publications and some former senior foreign government officials were calling for the release of the trio, as if it were a political decision rather than something that required due process, and that our judiciary was some kind of kangaroo court.
The worst and most extreme elements of the blue and yellow-ribbon mobs behave in much the same despicable way. Those who shout loudest about threats to the rule of law in front of foreign media are helping to undermine it.
Our judges, who maintain a dignified silence and diligently administer justice, are the real heroes of Hong Kong.