Don’t abuse in­di­vid­ual rights

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT -

The Hon­or­able Chief Jus­tice of the Court of Fi­nal Ap­peal, Ge­of­frey Ma Tao-li, was con­ferred on Thurs­day the de­gree of Doc­tor of Law, hon­oris causa, by the Chi­nese Univer­sity of Hong Kong. In his ac­cep­tance speech the top judge of the Hong Kong SAR said that law is ul­ti­mately about re­spect­ing and pro­tect­ing the in­di­vid­ual rights and in­ter­ests of all ci­ti­zens.

We be­lieve no one would ever dis­pute this sim­ple truth, but that does not mean it is easy to main­tain in real life. As we see and prob­a­bly ex­pe­ri­ence as well quite of­ten here in Hong Kong, some in­di­vid­u­als tend to for­get about other peo­ple’s rights and in­ter­ests when they are con­vinced what they want is more im­por­tant.

We in Hong Kong take great pride in our ju­di­cial sys­tem and the fact that this city is one of the safest in the world in terms of low crime rate and high law en­force­ment ef­fi­ciency. Some peo­ple, how­ever, are not happy about it be­cause they have to abide by so many laws and reg­u­la­tions in or­der to en­joy a safe life. In pol­i­tics, some par­ties, groups and in­di­vid­u­als go out of their way to ex­cuse them­selves for in­fring­ing other peo­ple’s rights and in­ter­ests by ac­cus­ing the po­lice of re­strict­ing their rights and free­doms in the name of pub­lic or­der and safety. Even af­ter they used vi­o­lence against po­lice of­fi­cers and com­mit­ted van­dal­ism by dam­ag­ing pub­lic and pri­vate prop­erty, they would al­ways de­fend them­selves by ac­cus­ing the po­lice of ex­ces­sive force.

On other oc­ca­sions cer­tain po­lit­i­cal groups have will­fully dis­rupted pub­lic gath­er­ings to voice their “griev­ances” without per­mis­sion, pre­sum­ably be­cause they are con­vinced they have the right and free­dom to do what­ever they want wher­ever and when­ever they want. Such be­hav­ior, ac­cord­ing to the chief jus­tice, con­sti­tutes an as­sault on an­other fun­da­men­tal value that laws are meant to protect: hu­man dig­nity. Who­ever ig­nores or even tram­ples other peo­ple’s dig­nity will find them­selves on the wrong side of law even­tu­ally, as ev­i­denced in the re­cent case of two sep­a­ratist law­mak­ers-elect be­ing dis­qual­i­fied for LegCo seats af­ter they in­sulted pub­lic wis­dom and dig­nity as well as vi­o­lat­ing the Ba­sic Law and lo­cal laws dur­ing swearingin on Oct 12.

Those two ill-ad­vised young politi­cians thought they could get away with adul­ter­at­ing the LegCo oath and in­sult­ing the Chi­nese peo­ple, only to lose ev­ery­thing that mat­ters to their po­lit­i­cal ca­reers and their own dig­nity in the end. They prac­ti­cally asked for it be­cause they en­joyed hurt­ing other peo­ple’s feelings in ad­di­tion to break­ing laws so much they for­got they are not above the law and never will be.

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