To the point
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.