Chinese state media urges quicker trials and heavy sentences for HK protesters

09-Oct-2019 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Hong Kong’s judiciary has been urged by mainland Chinese state media to speed up trials of those arrested during anti-government protests in the city and hand down heavy sentences.

It was the latest claim by state media that the city’s legal system which is independent and different from that on the mainland has been too lenient during the ongoing unrest.

An online commentary published by Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily said: “Most of the approximately 2,000 arrested by police in the past four months are still free on bail… if those prosecuted had already been punished by the law, would there be that many young students incited?

“When will Hong Kong’s judiciary answer the public’s call to join the [Hong Kong] government in stopping Hong Kong from falling off the cliff?”

Hong Kong police chase down a woman wearing a face mask in the city’s central district on Saturday. (AFP)

Hong Kong police chase down a woman wearing a face mask in the city’s central district on Saturday. (AFP)

A Hong Kong policeman, who became famous in July after he was pictured pointing a shotgun at protesters in July also expressed his dissatisfaction on the microblog Weibo.

Sergeant Lau Chak-kei wrote that the city’s courts had been too lenient in dealing with lawbreakers.

“The way the magistrates in Hong Kong rule is no different from aiding and abetting the rioters,” Lau wrote. “Condoning, glorifying, and passing lenient sentences… Can this be called fair justice? So laughable!”

Lau was recently given a hero’s welcome when he was invited by the central government to attend the National Day celebrations in Beijing.

The People’s Daily article argued that the administration of justice was essential in stopping violence, and that the judiciary had both the means and responsibility to achieve that.

“The judgement day for the rioters has already come too late,” the commentary said. “People do not want the trials to be high-profile but end with light sentencing.”

State media also singled out the secondary school attended by the 18-year-old student shot by Hong Kong police during protests on October 1, for failing to denounce his “violent acts”.

A commentary by Xinhua, China’s official news agency, on Monday criticised Tsuen Wan Public Ho Chuen Yiu Memorial College, attended by Tsang Chi-kin, and condemned a statement the school issued about the shooting of Tsang.

“It did not mention anything about the violent crimes committed [by the student], but instead indicated that [Tsang] would not be expelled from school,” Xinhua said. “It has chosen to say it ‘shared young people’s concerns about the current situation’ and ‘condemned the excessive force and out-of-line actions by the police’.”

“Such logic is a warning sign that some teachers in Hong Kong have gone astray, and the fact that they have condoned [students' mistakes] and the wrong views [of the teachers] is causing great harm to young people,” it said.

In a statement on Sunday, the school’s management committee said it would not expel Tsang, who has been charged with rioting and assaulting police.

Tsang was the first demonstrator to be shot with live ammunition in Hong Kong during the mass protests triggered in June by a now-shelved extradition bill that would have allowed the transfer of criminal suspects to mainland China’s opaque legal system. The teenager was shot in the chest.

The school did say in its statement that it condemned and disagreed with all forms of violence, including use of excessive force and abuse of power by police, and urged all sides to show restraint.

The Xinhua article said the statement showed a connection between teachers who had failed to do their job and violence by students.

“Reading the statement, we can only see defence for the lawbreakers and support for the rioters. So how can the students establish decent values towards the rule of law in such circumstances?” it said.

“The statement shows that the recent violence by some students in Hong Kong is closely related to the dereliction of duty by some teachers.”

The Xinhua commentary is not the first diatribe by Beijing’s propaganda machine to pile pressure on schools in Hong Kong to take harsher steps in disciplining students who have joined the protests.

Meanwhile, former Hong Kong leader Leung Chun-ying now a vice-chair of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, China’s top political advisory body last week wrote 10 Facebook posts about the shooting of the student, including eight on Wednesday alone. Several of his posts called for Tsang to be expelled from the school.

In one post, Leung wrote: “The principal should immediately remove the student status of these thugs as punishment. If the principal is afraid that others will cause damage to the school, then he should resign.”

He later sent a letter to the school, reiterating his call.

Ren Yi, a prominent mainland blogger and grandson of a Communist Party revolutionary, has also called for the city’s police to make full use of the new anti-mask law in pursuing protesters.

“Once youths with gear and dress identical to the violent protesters gather, [the police] should require them to take off their masks and search them,” Ren wrote on Sunday on his social media accounts, whose frequent readers are known to include Chinese officials.

“[Hong Kong police] should not back off because of difficulties in enforcing the mask ban, or even convince themselves that the [anti-mask law] is ineffective or lacks political basis,” he said.

“[The Hong Kong government and the police force] should no longer be swayed by public opinion. All they need is to persistently go after the core target group, and it will eventually intimidate the masked violent protesters and stop the street violence in Hong Kong.”



Category: Hong Kong

Print This Post