There’s just no pleasing some people

Hong Kong’s highest court has freed three Occupy protest leaders, yet the opposition is still crying foul

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 February, 2018, 3:30am
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 February, 2018, 5:22pm

Some people just demand to have their cake and eat it, too. The city’s highest court has set free three Occupy protest leaders, a decision which presumably vindicates the independence of our judiciary.

But nary a word about that from those brave opposition figures who profess themselves to be our greatest defenders of the rule of law.

Occupy trio freed after appeal against jail term over 2014 protest

Instead, they round on the court judgment, starting with one of the freed activists, Joshua Wong Chi-fung, who denounced it as a “sugar-coated harsh punishment” and claimed “more and more activists will be locked up because of this harsh judgment”.

Law Lay Dream, an activist legal group, claimed the ruling breached international legal standards. I don’t know if the group’s English name is intentional, but it sounds a lot like a crude Cantonese phrase that roughly means self-degradation.

Former University of Hong Kong law don Michael Davis warned it could deter people from taking part in street protests.

The Progressive Lawyers Group said the ruling would further restrict people’s rights to peaceful assembly as guaranteed under the International Covenant on Civil Rights, to which Hong Kong is a signatory.

Appeal ruling for Joshua Wong could have ‘chilling effect’ on social activism

So, what’s this evil dictatorial ruling coming from our highest court? It merely upheld the lower court’s stricter sentencing guidelines.

Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma Tao-li said: “It was right for the Court of Appeal to send the message that unlawful assemblies involving violence, even the relatively low degree of violence that occurred in the present appeals, will not be condoned, and convictions will justifiably attract prison sentences.”

I thought the Occupy protests were all about “peace and love”, as advertised by its leaders, from law lecturer Benny Tai Yiu-ting and his fellow academic rebels to Wong and his two partners-in-crime Nathan Law Kwun-chung and Alex Chow Yong-kang.

Incidentally, the three young men have been nominated by a couple of American politicians for the Nobel Peace Prize; and I emphasise the word peace here.

Lam defends move to seek jail terms for Occupy trio despite court ruling

Is not being peaceful the crucial element that distinguishes civil disobedience from other forms of protest?

Apparently not! The opposition’s new argument, and also that of their academic supporters, is that it’s enough that my intention is to be peaceful, so it’s not my responsibility if protests I take part in or organise spiral out of control, causing violence and injuring some people. That’s the “international standard”? Give me a break.

No, the opposition just wants to have it both ways.