Don’t abuse individual rights
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.