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Thursday, Sep 24, 2020

Top Hong Kong officials condemn vandalism of High Court and personal attack on judge by anti-government protesters

Financial Secretary Paul Chan and Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng condemn the vandalism of the High Court and the personal attack on Madam Justice Anthea Pang. Secretary for Labour and Welfare Law Chi-kwong expresses sorrow over the vandalism of HSBC headquarters

Two top officials of Hong Kong went online on Sunday to condemn the recent vandalism of the High Court and personal attack on a judge by anti-government protesters, saying the acts were an attempt to undermine the city’s rule of law.

Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po said the city’s lingering social unrest had been eroding its international reputation and competitiveness. Violent protests over the past seven months had also taken away the “sense of safety” Hongkongers used to be proud of, he lamented.

Hong Kong has been rocked by protests, sparked by the now-withdrawn extradition bill, since June last year. The opposition to the bill has morphed into wider and often-violent anti-government protests.

In a piece posted on his official blog, Chan hit out at the radicals for vandalising the High Court in Admiralty during the New Year’s Day protest.

The protesters had scribbled the name of a judge, Madam Justice Anthea Pang Po-kam, on an outer wall of the court building, accusing her to be a judge with “red background” – suggesting she was pro-Beijing.

Chan wrote in his blog: “Such acts gravely undermine the rule of law. Those responsible will have to be brought to justice.”

He said Hong Kong’s economic achievements were “the fruits of the hard work of several generations of people”. Referring to the protesters’ slogan “If we burn, you burn with us”, he said: “Burning together is to destroy the efforts made by the previous generations.”

Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah echoed Chan’s views and condemned the vandalism of the High Court and the personal attack on Madam Justice Pang.

“It is bewildering what such acts could achieve except a futile attempt to undermine the very core values that we cherish and respect,” she wrote.

Cheng described judicial independence as the key building block to society.

“These rampant acts and statements … will not in any way affect the decision-making process in court proceedings, nor will they affect our judicial independence,” she wrote.

While the city’s courts have been largely left untouched by radical protesters, the judiciary has come under increasing criticism recently from both the pro-democracy and pro-Beijing camps over rulings involving protesters.

The protesters have accused the courts of favouring the government in cases, while the pro-government side has said the courts have been “too lenient” on the radicals.

The January 1 protests also saw the two iconic lion sculptures outside the HSBC headquarters in Central being vandalised by radicals, as they vented their anger at the banking giant for closing a fundraising account meant for them.

Last month, police froze more than HK$70 million (US$9 million) in the account and arrested four members of a group called Spark Alliance HK for money laundering.

In his blog piece on Sunday, Secretary for Labour and Welfare Law Chi-kwong expressed sorrow over the vandalism. He said he had worked at the HSBC headquarters after graduation from university and he would say “goodbye to the lions” when he left office everyday.

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