Mong Kok riot

Edward Leung and other Mong Kok protesters are paying the price for rioting, along with Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 June, 2018, 9:30am
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 June, 2018, 9:30am

On June 11, Edward Leung Tin-kei was jailed for six years for his role in the 2016 Mong Kok riot. Judge Anthea Pong Po-kam described the riot as “organised violence” that was “extremely serious”.

It was obvious that Leung took part in the riot. Kicking and hitting police officers with wooden boards, and throwing bricks and rubbish bins, constitute serious violence. These actions also harmed social harmony.

Critics may say the sentence is too harsh for a youngster, that the judge didn’t consider his age and motivations. We all agree we have to give people, especially youngsters, a chance to correct themselves. But we should not send out the wrong signal that taking part in social unrest, even for idealistic reasons, will draw mild sentences.

I am not saying we should not have political aspirations; in fact, I encourage youngsters to have such aspirations. But we should not achieve those goals by violent means.

In this case, the activists originally wanted to protect hawkers from being expelled by municipal officers. They saw themselves as protecting “Hong Kong culture”, calling their actions the “Fish Ball Revolution”. However, they used the wrong means.

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I agree that street food is a part of local culture. However, activists could have used more civilised means to promote this culture, such as using political influence to push for a street food night market.

I can accept civil disobedience, but draw the line at violence. I can condone pursuing an aspiration even if it breaches the law, but not attacking others. At the end of every “violent confrontation”, only the frontline officers and the protesters themselves are hurt. The protesters are branded “rioters” and might have to spend several years in prison. This is a total loss to themselves, their parents and society as a whole.

Patrick Mak, To Kwa Wan