Avoid quick judgments of Hong Kong protests

Protesters gathered at Harcourt Road during their clash outside the Legislative Council on Aug 5, 2019.
Protesters gathered at Harcourt Road during their clash outside the Legislative Council on Aug 5, 2019.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

Mr Leslie Fong should try to restrain himself from prescribing Singapore-style order for the Chinese Special Administrative Region, as well as refrain from speaking on behalf of Singaporeans on the recent unrest there (Hong Kong at a crossroads, Aug 1).

He has also been quick to implicate the foreign "black hands" for the ongoing protests in Hong Kong based on conjecture.

Unlike in Singapore, mass protests are a legitimate form of free expression in Hong Kong, especially in the absence of universal suffrage for the Hong Kong people to choose their own government.

Yet instead of distinguishing the violent riots by a fringe minority of 700 protesters from the vast majority's peaceful opposition against an extradition Bill that will legitimise what they perceive to be an oppressive legal system on the mainland vis-a-vis their independent judiciary, Mr Fong prefers to demonise all.

To add insult to injury, he also defined their cause as simply a proxy war between the West and China.

One would expect a former newspaper editor who had first-hand experience of the Chinese Communist Party's harsh detention of his former colleague, Mr Ching Cheong, over dubious spying charges over a decade ago to show at least some empathy towards the Hong Kong people's growing concern over the central government's steady erosion of their civil liberties.

There is such a thing as respect for the rule of law in all civilised societies.

Otherwise, why would Mr Fong refer to the Emergency Regulations Ordinance, which allows the Hong Kong government to tap reinforcements from China to tackle local disorder?

Perhaps it may be useful for him to reflect on whether Beijing holds the exclusive rights to interpret "one country, two systems" under the binding "international" treaty that is the Sino-British Joint Declaration.

Toh Cheng Seong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 06, 2019, with the headline 'Avoid quick judgments of Hong Kong protests'. Print Edition | Subscribe