Nobel prize winner William Golding’s 1954 dystopian novel “Lord Of The Flies” has obviously not been read by student protest leaders or by their many champions in the media or academia.
A voice of caution and reason would remind students that many professors enjoy tenure, and can afford to sacrifice the future prosperity and well-being of malleable young minds, without it imposing a hardship upon themselves. A stroll through HKU showed many professors on video screens situated along walkways, advising students of their legal rights when confronting police and other branches of Hong Kong Government. At no time does one see, either by words or actions, any of these professors or adult “leaders” talking about the legal responsibilities that protesters as members of a civil society have to each citizen in a fair and just society, which also includes the police.
professors enjoy tenure, and can afford to sacrifice the future prosperity and well-being of malleable young minds,without it imposing a hardship upon themselves.
At the outset of the demonstrations, the protesters, and students in particular, held the moral high ground in the eyes of public opinion and were widely respected for the manner by which they conducted themselves. In the aftermath of the Occupation, this is no longer the case.
Protest leaders have ignored the most basic rule in marketing…when you make the sale don’t oversell yourself out of the deal! They originally won strong public support, but by the time the Occupation was over much of that support had fallen by the wayside due to the misconduct of some Occupation supporters.
Media falling down
The role of the media in colouring and distorting the reality of the situation by using selective media “sound bites” and deploying inflammatory language that is grotesquely littered with descriptive militaristic overtones, needs to be critically examined to ensure balanced and responsible journalism survives in Hong Kong. A significant number of articles written by professional journalists would lead a non-informed reader to believe Hong Kong police are deploying police state tactics, which is negligently inaccurate.
From the beginning, protesters have touted the desire for equality, respect for democratic principles and the development of a free and egalitarian society. These are noble pursuits – but actions speak louder than words. From the beginning an unwarranted attack on the police and rule of law has occurred. Dissenting voices are shouted down and name-calling begins whenever an attempt is made to defend the actions of the police or to hold protesters to account.
Every protester made a free and conscious choice to join in the protests. Police officers were not given that same choice. During the protests, 129 police officers were injured, but where do I hear professors or others speaking about their rights? In Admiralty, thousands of protesters blocked roads and surrounded hundreds of police who were stationed behind defensive barriers designed to protect public property.
After the opening days of Occupy, the police did not attempt to clear or push back protesters, but instead were the ones being pushed back and having their freedom of movement restricted as students attempted to break into government buildings. The actions of some protesters were serious violations of criminal law and should not have been tolerated. This established the precedent for the beginning of mob rule in Hong Kong. This was also the moment when the implied trust between the police and the public and government leaders began to dissolve.
Stop and search
In the earliest days of the protest a police officer fell unconscious to the ground, likely due to heat stroke, and an ambulance was called for. Protesters refused to obey police to clear a path for the ambulance to come render assistance until such time as they were able to stop and search the ambulance to determine if the police were up to some trick. In those same early days with temperatures soaring, the police attempted to bring in water and other replenishment for their officers trapped within the much larger crowds. This aid was blocked and individuals assisting the police were restrained, until such time as the protesters could search the vehicles and confirm to their satisfaction that it was only water and food being brought in. What law or legal basis gave protesters the right to detain and search police officers or vehicles in the lawful performance of their duties?
Stop and beat
Towards the end of the Occupation, SCMP posted a video that captured a violent assault by protesters against plainclothes police officers in Admiralty. A young man believed to be a police officer is unconscious and lying on his back on the ground. Another plainclothes officer is attempting to give aid to his colleague and is physically restrained by several protesters to prevent him providing first aid to a person clearly in need. I am equally disturbed with the media who seemed quite happy to take pictures of an unconscious police officer, but I did not see a single one of them trying to assist the other police officer who was being forcibly confined and assaulted, while he tries to give aid and protection to his injured colleague. Who in the crowd of protesters and media offered assistance or protection to embattled police officers? What happened to their civil and human rights?
On the other side
Much ado has been made about the conduct of the seven police officers seen on video, presumably assaulting an individual, who just minutes earlier, was believed to have been wearing a mask and assaulting police officers in the most vile manner possible. This supposed attacker attended to the protest site and allegedly threw an unknown liquid down upon the police officers below.
At the time police didn’t know if it was urine being thrown upon them containing who knows what pathogens, or some other substance. At this moment in time, these seven police officers however, were guilty of nothing except being police officers ordered to be at the protest site to keep the peace and protect property. While the actions of these seven police officers is not to be justified, it can certainly be understood why they taught a lesson in street justice, as over the past few months the courts and government leaders appear to have made the decision that the well-being of police officers is secondary to other considerations.