Liu Xiaobo

Why Liu Xiaobo protest site at Times Square deserved to go

PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 June, 2018, 6:02pm
UPDATED : Friday, 22 June, 2018, 7:42pm

I refer to the report, “Dissident’s statue moved after legal threat from mall” (June 20), and wish to point out that certain activists have far too often forsaken reason and disregarded the rights of others when claiming to exercise their freedom of expression.

The latest instance was when a group of activists set up a booth outside Times Square on May 31, with a bust of the late Chinese pro-democracy poet Liu Xiaobo and an exhibition to mark the June 4 anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown.

A member of the group, “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, claimed that the Times Square outdoor piazza belonged to the people. Notwithstanding the public nature of the space and its de facto landmark function in Causeway Bay, Leung’s emotive statement ignored the facts.

A privately owned public space such as the Times Square piazza is for pedestrian passage and what in legal terms is known as “passive recreation”. Anyone wishing to engage in the latter type of activities would have to first seek permission from the property owner.

Regardless of one’s political leanings, the actions of the pro-democracy activists would be seen as clearly political, even if they were peaceful and restrained. Furthermore, in reality, there has been a curious degree of flexibility, tolerance even, in terms of Times Square’s handling of the “sit-ins” by the activists.

Watch: Detained widow of Liu Xiaobo tells friends she is ready to ‘die at home’

Hong Kong did well to remember Liu Xiaobo alongside June 4

As a Happy Valley resident who takes the MTR via Times Square every day, the June 4 stall by the activists has become an annual fixture over the past few years. Usually, the activists would only stay for around a week either before or after the anniversary. However, this year, they had camped out for some three weeks and, as they had crossed the line, it was only reasonable that they had to go.

It was fortunate that nothing happened to their stall when thunderstorms and a strong typhoon signal 3 hit Hong Kong two weeks ago. Who would have borne the costs and responsibility had a passer-by been injured by whirling placards and props in the lashing rain and wind?

It is civic-minded of any citizen to know their rights. Equally, they have to know the limits of their rights and learn to respect the rights of others.

Florence Chan, Happy Valley