Opinion | The right to protest does not work accidentally in UK?
By Edward Hei Leung, LegCo Member
To crack down the increased application of guerilla protests, the UK government has recently proposed a new public order bill to better protect the integrity of transport network and fuel supply in England and Wales. Given its support to Hong Kong protestors, the double standard, once again, does not only expose western hypocrisy, but also reviews the blatant intervention into China's affairs.
As introduced by Home Secretary Priti Patel, the UK administration has been faced with a selfish few using guerrilla tactics in the name of protest. All these anti-social behaviors disrupt lives of the law-abiding public, for instance, drivers cut the brakes amid the UK's busiest and most dangerous motorways, costing the police to unglue. As a result, the newly revised public order bill intends to render it criminal for behaviors like obstructing key national infrastructure, locking on, and interfering with construction projects, to name but a few. More importantly, the bill will enhance the stop-and-search powers of UK police on suspicious individuals and allow the courts to impose further prevention orders. Analysts believe that the recent act is a direct response to protests by Extinction Rebellion, a pressure group that persuades administrations to act immediately in light of climate and ecological emergency.
Climate activists denounce the Johnson administration on the malicious attempts to curb the freedom of expression, particularly their right to air opinions for a safe and better future. Yet, Patel dismisses the proposed claims as lazy excuses by opponents, the ministry does not attempt to erode the fundamental right to protest. If UK citizens cannot obstruct the key transports in the pretext of demonstrations, why do Hong Kong protestors have the right to do so?
Remember the unrest time when Hong Kong was engulfed in black violence. The so-called peaceful protestors trashed shops, attacked innocent people, threw petrol bombs and even stabbed police officers. Did the Johnson government stop our citywide instability? Instead, the UK authority expressed its serious concerns about the mistreatment of protesters, stressed the importance of the right to protest, and demanded our authority to address the legitimate concerns through meaningful political dialogues. If the so-called legitimate concerns should be addressed, why does the UK have the urge to propose a new bill to curb the guerilla demonstration strategies? What is the difference between those disruptive criminal behaviors?
As an old saying goes, freedom is not boundless. When a person crosses over the legal boundary, the government can consider the individual as committing criminal activities. That is the international standard, though habitually ignored by our western counterparts. Worse still, western politicians weaponize the word "human right" to interfere with internal affairs of other countries. In Hong Kong, destructive protests become a beautiful sight to behold, rioters are heroized as human right fighters. In contrast, when those anti-social behaviors happen in their cities, western governments will emphasize the importance of law and order, and the law amendment should not be regarded as infringement on human rights. Sad but true, as long as China is their strategic rival in geopolitics, they will embrace the double standard to denounce our city. That is to say, we should distinguish who is the true supporter of "One country, two systems", backing up the city's socio-economic stability.
The views do not necessarily reflect those of DotDotNews.
Read more articles by Edward Hei Leung: