Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Academic's Wise Words

Law professor Johannes Chan is concerned about the erosion of core values
Hong Kong is not only being divided by the haves and have nots, those pushing for Occupy Central, and others towing the Beijing line, but there's also the issue of corruption reaching further into the city than ever before.

The former dean of the University of Hong Kong's faculty of law, professor Johannes Chan Man-mun has expressed alarm at the erosion of the city's core values, saying corruption was more evident despite higher awareness of the importance of a sound legal system.

"Corruption has grown more serious. It's not even about people breaking the law; what is scarier is how corruption is seen as socially acceptable," said the academic and barrister.

As a result he is concerned about rule of law during the city's current political turmoil.

"Just the fact that a former ICAC chief [Timothy Tong Hin-ming] would attempt to explain away his actions -- this is something that would be impossible to accept in the past," he said, referring to Tong's overspending and gifts to mainland officials.

"Hong Kong's success hinges on having a complete and wholesome system of judicial independence," Chan said. "We could rely on economic prowess as an advantage 20 to 30 years ago, but that's all gone now -- the rule of law is our only advantage."

When Beijing released its white paper last month, Chan said he was "extremely angry" that judges had to "love the country and love Hong Kong".

He said this would cause the public to doubt judicial independence, adding, "The secretary of justice has the responsibility to come out and explain it."

Chan also commented on police chief Andy Tsang Wai-hung's statement that police would "enforce the law strictly as the law indicates" if the Occupy Central civil disobedience movement goes ahead. The professor said all legal systems allowed for discretion.

"Whether any law is broken is one thing, whether or not to prosecute is another," he said. Whether to prosecute or not -- it takes into account our core values, human rights and many more factors. It's not just a matter of whether it's against the law or not -- it's not black and white.

"[Society] is not just about the law -- it's about upholding core values as well. Discretion is not something the law can tell you -- and it's something society cannot be without."

Wise words from the academic, who is trying to remind us the importance of upholding rule of law in Hong Kong and that while the authorities may threaten to go by the letter of the law, there is still some leeway -- mixed with common sense -- which makes this city what it is today... though corruption is what we need to get rid of asap...

1 comment:

  1. (Final Whistle) Singapore wins the Asian City Race...HK fought valiantly but hamstring by poor PRC Chinese management...

    Congraulations to HK is *NOT* a WORLD CLASS CITY anymore, just another mainland Tier 1 city.

    Now let's see how long before investments and native ex-patriate population starts to leave the HK in droves...