Editorial:Don't let the rule of law die in silence

【明報專訊】AFTER acts of wanton vandalism at multiple MTR stations, train operations were again disrupted on the first day of the new school term yesterday (Sep 2) due to the non‑cooperation movement carried out by some in open defiance of court injunctions. The rule of law is both the cornerstone of the city and the core value most cherished by Hong Kong people. The authority of judicial organs is exactly the foundation of the rule of law. MTR facilities are repairable even if seriously damaged. But if the rule of law is subjected to a heavy blow or impact, it will be much more difficult to repair the breach. The Hong Kong Bar Association has released a statement condemning the mass defiance of court injunctions over the weekend, saying that such actions would make society descend into lawlessness. The statement pinpoints the seriousness of the problem. It is the responsibility of all sectors in society, especially the legal profession, regardless of their political stance, to stand up and guard the rule of law as well as the authority of the court. Actions constituting contempt of court should not be left unheard and unquestioned. The rule of law should never be left to die in silence.

Approximately half of the ninety‑plus MTR stations have been sabotaged so far. 32 of them were damaged on Saturday alone while 15 stations were vandalised on Sunday. The violent activists damaged facilities like station control rooms, turnstiles, ticket issuing machines and platform screen doors. At Tung Chung station, two people were allegedly beaten up by the violent activists for taking photos. Mong Kok and Prince Edward stations were so severely damaged that they had to be closed for one day. After emergency repairs, all stations of the various lines finally managed to open for operation yesterday. But it will take more time for some facilities to be restored. The MTR corporation strongly condemned the vandalism. However, a new "non‑cooperation movement" was launched yesterday morning at several stations, disrupting train operations and affecting people commuting to work or school.

The violent activists have damaged not only tangible facilities of the MTR but also the most fundamental spirit of the rule of law. Last month, the Airport Authority obtained an injunction from the court to forbid anyone from obstructing or interfering with the operations of Hong Kong International Airport after it was paralysed by radical protesters. The MTR Corporation soon followed suit. According to the injunction, creating trouble on trains or in stations, "causing disturbance" to other passengers and the use of "any threatening language" are all prohibited. The judge stressed that incalculable damage had already been inflicted upon train services and the MTR staff also had to be spared from harm or threat. The injunction applies to all people, "no matter what colour the person wears".

The fight against political injustice must not be equated with a challenge to the authority of the court. As we pointed out yesterday, the situation over the past few days has not been about "opposing the government's inhumanity and injustice" anymore. Rather, it has been about whether or not we will continue to safeguard the rule of law. If Hong Kong fails to adhere to this fundamental principle, that will perhaps lead to the demise of the rule of law. The Bar Association's underlying message in its strong condemnation of the mass defiance of court injunctions over the weekend is also a call for the defence of the rule of law. The association called on the government to face simmering public sentiment squarely, withdraw the amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance completely and carry out an independent investigation. Nevertheless, at the same time it also emphasised that a mass defiance of the court injunction will only lead to a descent into lawlessness.

明報社評 2019.09.03:法庭禁制令不容無視 勿讓法治沉默中死亡






defiance:open refusal to obey sb/sth

constitute:to be considered to be sth

descent:a change in a situation, from good to bad

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