HONG KONG—The people of Hong Kong have noticed a certain inconsistency in the way their government handles protesters’ violent and abusive behavior.
For example, when groups supporting the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) publicly slander or exert violence against Hong Kong democratic groups or Falun Gong information kiosks, the police have allowed the behavior, saying that everyone has freedom of expression. On the other hand, a group of Hong Kong netizens who held an anti-mainland tourists protest were quickly investigated and criticized.
The violent behavior of groups such as the Hong Kong Youth Care Association (HKYCA) is permitted by the police despite its violating Hong Kong’s Public Order Ordinance. The HKYCA is a CCP-supported organization dedicated to suppressing groups the CCP persecutes.
HKYCA Frames Falun Gong
Since June 2012, the HKYCA has disrupted and harassed many peaceful demonstrations and information sites of Falun Gong, a Chinese spiritual practice that is severely persecuted by the CCP. Members of the HKYCA have besieged Falun Gong practitioners with insults, tried to provoke them with loud noise, or even resorted to violence.
Despite several complaints from Falun Gong practitioners, the police have not taken any measures to enforce the law, causing the general public to believe that this is a typical case of selective enforcement.
Last October the HKYCA began to focus on harassing a Falun Gong information site in Causeway Bay, and on Feb. 14 they started sending two or three members there to pretend to be Falun Gong practitioners. These members wore yellow vests to appear like practitioners and shouted “Falun Dafa is good” while distributing flyers slandering Falun Gong.
Many passersby mistook them for practitioners and took their flyers with gratitude. When Falun Gong practitioners pointed out the members’ wrongdoing, other HKYCA members not wearing yellow vests stood off to the side and shouted that Falun Gong was engaging in a split.
Ms. Liu, who is responsible for coordinating Falun Gong demonstrations and information sites, said that since Feb. 14 the HKYCA’s acts of fakery have spread to other sites in Hong Kong. Although Ms. Liu went to the police for help several times, the police only asked her for a list of Hong Kong Falun Gong practitioners and said that HKYCA members have freedom of speech.
Ms. Liu said that the practitioners asked the police to put this on record so that if any HKYCA member does something indecent or illegal while pretending to be a Falun Gong practitioner, she can prove that it was nothing to do with Falun Gong.
“I think the police are not doing what they are supposed to do, conniving the HKYCA’s actions and allowing them to do whatever they want, including provoking others,” said Ms. Liu. “This has been going on long-term, but the police have ignored the complaints every time.”
Ms. Liu believes that the HKYCA is trying to discredit Falun Gong by creating the illusion of a split among practitioners to deceive the public. She added that when real Falun Gong practitioners use media to warn the public about these HKYCA members, the members seem pleased.
“One member said: ‘You’d better expose us in the newspapers; otherwise how can our livelihood be secured?’” said Ms. Liu.
“Obviously she has orders from her boss, that’s why they want to do such things which could make them a fortune. The bigger the scene they make, the more money they will get,” Ms. Liu explained.
Falun Gong practitioners have been trying hard to persuade HKYCA members to stop posing as practitioners, but the members have refused to repent and instead bullied practitioners violently.
Ms. Liu said that Falun Gong practitioner Siu Lai was recently punched and kicked while videotaping HKYCA members in Mong Kok. The police jotted down the information of both sides, and Siu Lai was sent to the hospital for medical clearance, which took until 3am.
When Siu Lai went to the police station, the police said there were no available officers to record a statement, and arrangements could be made next month. Siu Lai said the police had always shirked their responsibility and would not investigate any crimes related to the HKCYA.
Legislator Leung Yiu-chung of the Neighborhood and Worker’s Service Center believes that the HKYCA’s posing as Falun Gong practitioners is one of the CCP’s long-term means of persecuting Falun Gong.
“They are afraid of public opinion and social pressure,” said Leung. “I think to deal with this situation, it is better to expose their behavior to the public. Give more people the opportunity to know, which to a certain extent has a deterring effect.”
Democratic Party legislator Sin Chung-kai also believes the CCP is working behind the scenes in such activities.
“The mainland Chinese government has been doing everything possible to disrupt the normal activities of Falun Gong in Hong Kong,” said Sin. “Through impersonating Falun Gong practitioners, they may provoke or alienate supporters of Falun Gong.”
Sin believes that the Hong Kong government cannot continue to condone this fraudulent behavior.
“This is also a very negative development for Hong Kong society,” he said.
Rule of Law Endangered
Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and some senior government officials recently made high-profile criticisms of netizens’ anti-mainland tourist activities, saying the protesters should be handled with legal means.
The netizens held a protest at Canton Road in Hong Kong on Feb. 16. Four senior government officials denounced the activity simultaneously and said that the police would conduct follow-up investigations of the alleged misconduct.
Leung Chun-ying said, “The government will follow up according to the law.”
Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok made a high-profile announcement that the police may invoke section 17B of the Public Order Ordinance to prosecute the netizens.
Meanwhile, on the same morning, the recently fired Commercial Radio host Li Wei-ling was besieged by a large group of Leung Chun-ying supporters as she participated in the City Forum. The Leung supporters surrounded Li and host Tse Chi-fung, abused them with foul language, and rushed onto the stage to make trouble, so that Li had to be escorted by security guards and police officers when she left. However, government officials had no comment on this.
Also on the same day, two CCP-supporting groups called the “Protect Hong Kong Movement” and “Voice of Loving Hong Kong” set up a street booth and rally in Canton Road at the same time as the netizens’ activity. They traded insults with the netizens, but none of the senior government officials condemned their behavior.
The Hong Kong general public has questioned the selective law enforcement of the Leung government.
Mr. Ronny Tong, Senior Counsel in Hong Kong, was very surprised that the police have refused to cite the Public Order Ordinance to prosecute CCP front groups, including a group of elderly men who verbally abuse the pan-democratic camp every time they attend the City Forum. Tong said that the government’s high-profile announcement that the anti-CCP netizens would be prosecuted has made people easily conclude that it is selective law enforcement.
“This is another significant act of destruction of the rule of law,” said Tong. “Regardless of the political context or whether you agree with their publications or not, since there is legislation, the police should treat each equally in terms of law enforcement.”
There are two charges in Section 17B of the Public Order Ordinance in Hong Kong, both of which result in a fine of $5,000 and imprisonment for 12 months. The first involves acts that aim to prevent the transaction of public activities, and the second involves the deliberate use of threatening, abusive, or insulting language or distribution of written materials with the intent to provoke a breach of the peace or which could result in a breach of the peace.
Former Chief Justice Andrew Li has publicly emphasized that the rule of law is the cornerstone of Hong Kong.
Asia’s richest man, Li Ka-shing, stated last November in an interview by the Southern Metropolis Daily, “Hong Kong needs the rule of law and not the rule of man.”
Li Ka-shing indicated that the government should implement policies fairly and impartially on the basis of the rule of law and must never be selective in exercising its power. He also warned that the establishment of rule of law is not easy, and if the government makes a mistake with this, it could be gone overnight.
Translated by Terence Li. Written in English by Sally Appert.