Hong Kong’s police chief must apologise for the actions of Occupy seven

PUBLISHED : Monday, 27 February, 2017, 4:46pm
UPDATED : Monday, 27 February, 2017, 11:18pm

It perplexes me that Police Commissioner Stephen Lo Wai-chung refused to issue an apology for the criminal misconduct of the seven officers who were convicted of assaulting activist Ken Tsang Kin-chiu.

Whether the punishment of a two-year sentence is proportional to the severity of the case is open to dispute, but the fact that seven officers broke the law is not.

Lo should not have shied away from what the public demands. The possibility of an appeal should not in any way thwart the need for an apology.

The reputation of the police force has been tarnished because of the incident. Lo might be wary that issuing an apology is tantamount to succumbing to public pressure.

This is not a time for some face-saving; the absence of an apology will only further undermine the reputation of the police force.

When Lo had no qualms in describing in public that the incident is both serious and unprecedented – one that affects the whole force – he is paradoxical in appearing to be defensive rather than apologetic.

In a statement issued by him shortly after the verdict was announced, he showed support for his comrades and mentioned the option of an appeal. What about the importance of discipline and the rule of law?

Mr Lo, shouldn’t it be the time to right the wrong instead of showing solidarity or backing team spirit?

In exchange for the support from his counterparts, Lo has failed the public as far as public accountability is concerned. He has forgotten that he is a public servant – so are the seven police officers.

He failed to strike a balance between placating the public and showing empathy for his counterparts.

At a time when the relationship between the public and the police is increasingly torn, Lo’s response is less than tactful and will only add fuel to the fire.

The public is reasonable in demanding an apology from Lo. After all, an apology is not only a symbolic gesture. A lot more has to be done by the police force to salvage its reputation.

Public assurance is much needed and an apology would be a good starting point, symbolising commitment to change.

An apology would not necessarily placate the public, but a delayed response will mean that this controversy will continue.

Borromeo Li, Happy Valley