Thursday, July 5, 2018

Richard Cullen on "Criminal justice system works, keep it that way" (China Daily)

"Criminal justice system works, keep it that way"
Richard Cullen
China Daily
14 June 2018
Since the sentences were announced there have been strong protests about the severity of the penalties imposed, especially on Leung who was the former spokesman for Hong Kong Indigenous - a localist group. Incidentally, none of those protesting has paused to note the courage of the out-numbered policemen who brought the riot under control using the minimum force required, at serious cost in terms of injuries for a number of them.
      The array of people thus protesting included the last governor of British Hong Kong. Chris Patten is quoted as saying: "It is disappointing to see that the legislation is now being used politically to place extreme sentences on 'pan-democrats' and other activists". The relevant legislation is the Public Order Ordinance, the most significant elements of which were passed by the British Hong Kong government to give additional powers to police during the riots in Hong Kong in the mid-1960s. Shortly before the 1997 handover, the powers the British enjoyed under the ordinance until 1995 were watered down. The Provisional Legislative Council reversed these 11th-hour amendments in 1997. ...
     Patten's accusation that the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region judiciary is now in the business of applying the law with plain political intentions is not new. This is a reiterated claim. Hong Kong's former director of public prosecutions Grenville Cross has responded to similar past claims and I cannot improve on his observations: "As he (Patten) should know, Hong Kong's judiciary is fiercely independent, is comprised of men and women of integrity and is well regarded throughout Asia and beyond. Once he has cooled down, Patten may wish to withdraw his slur, and to give the judiciary his unequivocal support, given its valiant work in upholding the rule of law in Hong Kong." I can only add that it is disappointing that Lord Patten (as he now is) has lately demonstrated a comprehensive failure to heed this robust, sensible advice. ...
     We are genuinely fortunate that Hong Kong's criminal justice system is not devitalized like that in Britain (which Patten would have us emulate, it would seem). Our system has both integrity and backbone. The judges in that system understand their key role in keeping Hong Kong one of the safest large cities in the world - without fear or favor.  Click here to read the full text. 


  1. In assessing Chris Patten and other critical responses to these cases we should be careful not to lump the Leung case with all the others involving non-violent civil disobedience. One suspect that Chris Patten was concerned more about the democracy activist. Even the objection in the Leung case relates more to the severity of the sentence, not the behaviour of the police.

  2. Would also say that Richard and Michael are likely not aware of the depth of the attacks on the non-Chinese in the local judiciary.

  3. There has been a time-worn, self-serving totem of the law-enforcement/prosecutor complex that exposing their mistakes would be harmful because it would undermine public confidence in the justice system. It is a price that they are quite willing to have other people pay. Those who buy into this line of thinking can expect, and almost always receive, commendations and protection from the colleagues and superiors. It is no accident that the victims of their mistakes are people who generated little social sympathy and have few resources. So, it is even hard to call them mistakes when these acts are so willfully pursued. According to this writer public confidence is important to good law enforcement, but it can’t be bought at such a deep discount and not be tarnished.