Don’t forget the real heroes of Mong Kok riot

To treat those who took part and were jailed as martyrs is an insult, praise should be reserved for the outnumbered police, many of whom were seriously injured

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 June, 2018, 4:29am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 June, 2018, 4:29am

Call it the Fishball Revolution or Mong Kok riot, I don’t really care. People have already made up their minds using one or the other phrase, depending on where their own political sympathies lie.

But what I find insulting, indeed a travesty, is to treat those 19 participants now found guilty of rioting and given lengthy sentences as martyrs or heroes fighting for the future of Hong Kong.

No, they are not heroes. The real heroes are the dozens or so of outnumbered policemen, many of them traffic officers who were the first at the scene. Their lives were threatened, many were injured, seriously in some cases, while trying to keep order and protect their comrades – without resorting to the use of lethal force. Not once.

Imagine if just one officer had been less professional or restrained, and fired a shot at a rioter? You can already read the headlines in the international media, and the outrage of Western, especially American, politicians.

No, those men and women of the US Congress would not react with sympathy and understanding and support, the way they did when the Israeli army killed dozens and injured hundreds of Palestinians who were demonstrating on their side of the border in Gaza.

No, the Fishball Revolution would have been quickly relabelled Tiananmen 2.0.

So, let me thank our thankless officers. They are the unsung heroes who saved Hong Kong’s international reputation and helped prevent a political crisis. But of course, despite their professionalism and sacrifices, they will never get the credit they deserve.

As for those rioters who have been sent to jail, some of them may well have the purity of heart, the noblest of intentions for their actions on that fateful night. Who knows?

After being jailed for six years for his part in the riot, Edward Leung Tin-kei released a Facebook statement calling on Hong Kong people to unite and fight for their future.

In another trial, before being led away, another rioter Lo Kin-man shouted: “Look after Hong Kong for me.” It has since become a rallying cry among opposition groups.

But even if we assume they had the best of intentions and motives, it’s still hard to justify throwing bricks and broken bottles at police officers and beating them up as furthering a noble cause.

The ends don’t justify any means. The road to hell, as they say, is paved with good intentions.