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Editorial : Half paralysis in Hong Kong

【明報專訊】THE situation in Hong Kong is deteriorating. The Education Bureau has announced that classes in all schools will be suspended until Monday. Many people have not been able to go to work as normal either. As the half-paralysis of the city's land transportation system continues, not only is citizens' everyday transport severely affected, but logistic problems have also surfaced gradually.

The new wave of boycotts on three fronts (strikes, boycotts of classes and boycotts by businesses) stemmed from the death of Chow Tsz-lok, an HKUST student who had fallen from height. At first some people in university student groups proposed a general boycott on three fronts for a week. But this is a "leaderless" political movement. The Education Bureau ordered all classes be suspended until Monday. However, judging from the developments, no one can be certain what will happen next. The government has to be prepared for the worst. It would be wishful thinking to believe it is likely that the general strike will end early next week.

The foundations for the rule of law have been shaken, as the authority of the courts is being openly challenged. The Chinese University of Hong Kong's (CUHK) student union applied for an interim injunction, asking the court to prohibit police officers from entering the CUHK campus to enforce the law. But the High Court rejected the application. Hong Kong has an independent judiciary with a sound mechanism for appeals. However, after the ruling was announced, there were violent people who set fire to the Shatin Law Courts Building. The action was one of open contempt of court and an insult to the rule of law. The Law Society of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Bar Association have publicly condemned the action. The rule of law is the cornerstone of democracy. As the Law Society has stressed, a democracy not underpinned by the rule of law will only result in chaos. If society does not return to rationality and say no to violence, Hong Kong will collapse completely. Not only will we fail to achieve democracy and protect freedom, but the rule of law will also be lost.

The police say that the CUHK campus has become an arms depot and an arsenal of Molotov cocktails. The CUHK's student union insists that it will launch a prolonged campaign to resist the police's entry and will not hesitate to sacrifice themselves. Many people have focused on the confrontation between the police and university students. However, the greatest threat to the CUHK probably comes more from the inside of the campus than from the outside.

Many universities including the CUHK have announced that they would end the semester prematurely, meaning that students and teaching staff will not have to go to campuses anymore. These universities stress that they are mainly concerned about the paralysis of the transportation system and the safety of teachers and students. However, the moves are in effect attempts to evacuate teachers and students. It is questionable whether these universities are in control of the campuses anymore. Worried about personal safety and the threat of violence, nearly one hundred mainland students have temporarily withdrawn from the CUHK and other campuses. Taiwan and South Korea have evacuated their students from Hong Kong's universities. As the turmoil in Hong Kong aggravates, the possibility that more governments will issue higher travel warnings against Hong Kong or even advise their nationals against coming to Hong Kong cannot be ruled out.

Yesterday (November 14) Xi Jinping, the Chinese president, responded to the turmoil in Hong Kong and said he unwaveringly supported the SAR government, police and judiciary in their strict enforcement of the law and punishment of the violent people. A CCTV commentary even said that if the turmoil in Hong Kong continued, "there will not be much time for Hong Kong society's self-correction". The SAR government has a responsibility to come up with a practical and doable proposal to tackle the half-paralysis in society and think more about how to respond to demands from society.

明報社評2019.11.15:交通半癱社會半停 政府要有應對方案

香港局勢惡化。教育局已宣布所有學校一直停課至星期日,不少人也無法如常上班開工。陸路交通半癱瘓情况持續,不僅嚴重妨礙市民日常出入,物流受阻問題也漸漸浮現。

新一波「三罷」(罷工、罷課、罷市)源於科大生周梓樂墮樓身亡,起初有大專學界中人提出「三罷」一周,然而這場政治運動並無「大台」。教育局下令全港停課至星期天,惟觀乎事態發展,現時誰都無法肯定,政府要有最壞準備,倘若以為「三罷」下周初或許有機會告一段落,未免流於一廂情願。

香港法治根基動搖,法庭權威也受到公然挑戰。中大學生會申請臨時禁制令,要求法庭禁止警員進入校園執法,惟高院拒絕。香港司法獨立,亦有完善上訴機制,然而裁決公布後,竟有暴徒縱火破壞沙田裁判法院,公然藐視法庭侮辱法治,律師會和大律師公會相繼譴責。法治是民主的基石,律師會強調,沒有法治的民主,只會陷入亂局。 社會再不回歸理智,向暴力說不,香港真的會全面崩壞,爭不了民主、護不了自由,連法治也將失去。

警方指中大校園變成武器庫及汽油彈兵工廠,中大學生會則強調長期抵抗警方內進,不惜犧牲。不少人將焦點放在警方與大學生對峙情况,可是中大面對的最大隱憂,也許更多是來自校園內部而非外部。

包括中大在內,多間大學已宣布提早結束學期,即學生和教員毋須再回校,校方強調主要是因應交通癱瘓和師生安全,云云,然而從現實操作角度,確有變相叫師生撤走意味,刻下校方是否仍然控制得了校園情况,頗有疑問。由於擔心人身安全和暴力威脅,近日已有近百名內地生暫時從中大等校園撤離。台灣以至韓國也有從大學「撤僑」的行動。香港亂局加劇,不排除有更多政府提升旅遊警示,甚至勸喻國民避免前往香港。

昨天國家主席習近平回應香港亂局,堅定支持特區政府、警方和司法機構嚴正執法懲治暴力分子,央視評論更表示香港再亂下去,「留給香港社會自我修正的時間不多」。特區政府有責任盡快拿出切實可行方案,處理當前社會半癱瘓局面,多想如何回應社會訴求。

■Glossary

surface : to suddenly appear or become obvious after having been hidden for a while

wishful thinking : the belief that sth that you want to happen is happening or will happen, although this is actually not true or very unlikely

depot : a place where large amounts of food, goods or equipment are stored

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