To the point

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - STAFF WRITER

A lo­cal mag­is­trate on Thurs­day found Billy Fung Jing-en, former pres­i­dent of the Uni­ver­sity of Hong Kong Stu­dents’ Union, guilty of dis­or­derly con­duct in a pub­lic place. This was for his lead­ing role in an in­ci­dent in Jan­uary last year, when scores of HKU stu­dents led by Fung clashed with se­cu­rity guards and po­lice of­fi­cers as they tried to break into an HKU Coun­cil meet­ing. They pre­vented coun­cil mem­bers from leav­ing the venue for four hours. The stu­dents in­volved, par­tic­u­larly Fung, were widely crit­i­cized for their vi­o­lent be­hav­ior in wan­ton vi­o­la­tion of cam­pus rules as well as ex­ist­ing laws. That is why the pub­lic de­manded proper dis­ci­plinary ac­tion against Fung to make an ex­am­ple of him to others.

Hong Kong has long been a so­ci­ety liv­ing un­der the rule of law. This has been in­stru­men­tal in the city’s suc­cess as a mod­ern free trade port and in­ter­na­tional fi­nan­cial cen­ter in the re­gion. The city is by no means crime free but it is nev­er­the­less well-known as one of the safest, freest places in the world. That said, we must not ig­nore a wor­ry­ing trend in re­cent years. This has put many young peo­ple on a collision course with the rule of law — sup­pos­edly in the name of some po­lit­i­cal as­pi­ra­tions. There have been many ex­am­ples of such de­vi­ous de­signs but none more de­plorable than the il­le­gal “Oc­cupy Cen­tral” move­ment al­most three years ago. At the time young stu­dents, en­cour­aged by op­po­si­tion politi­cians, fought with po­lice in an ef­fort to crip­ple Hong Kong’s fi­nan­cial district.

HKU has been and still is the most pres­ti­gious in­sti­tu­tion of higher learn­ing in Hong Kong. This is all the more rea­son why so­ci­ety should en­sure its oldest pub­lic uni­ver­sity main­tains its tra­di­tion of aca­demic ex­cel­lence in­stead of be­com­ing a boot camp for law­less po­lit­i­cal foot sol­diers. Peo­ple, and es­pe­cially the younger gen­er­a­tion, should re­al­ize it is never a good thing to break ex­ist­ing laws for any pur­pose no mat­ter how “honor­able” it may sound. This is be­cause il­le­gal acts will al­ways de­stroy even the best in­ten­tions in the end.

Uni­ver­sity stu­dents are a some­what priv­i­leged group. They should not take the ex­pec­ta­tions of their par­ents and so­ci­ety lightly. No po­lit­i­cal as­pi­ra­tion is worth pur­su­ing if it dis­rupts the so­cial or­der and one’s own well-be­ing.

Fung and his co-de­fen­dant in this case are now on bail await­ing sen­tenc­ing — which the pre­sid­ing mag­is­trate has de­layed un­til Septem­ber. Whether he is jailed or not, peo­ple should note the most im­por­tant les­son to learn from this case. That is: No one is above the law in Hong Kong re­gard­less of their gen­der, age, so­cial sta­tus, faith or po­lit­i­cal af­fil­i­a­tion.

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