Why, requested 1 of my colleagues, do you not compose about politics any more? I experienced not observed this, but it is accurate. The expanding frequency of lawful remark is partly thanks to the disappearance of politics. There is no lack of lawful nonsense the political nonsense has absent underground.
The proceedings of the Legislative Council have become a mere formality. Officers announce what they have previously declared in a modern push meeting. There is no discussion, no criticism. Some of the more odious professional-government mediocrities choose the possibility to surface additional royalist then the King by contacting for some thing outrageous. No one cares no person listens.
The condition outdoors the council is not substantially improved. Important voices have been jailed or intimidated. Commentators are inhibited by the vagueness of the crimes now getting uncovered less than the countrywide security laws and the recently exhumed sedition segment of the Crimes Ordinance.
Discussion of coverage looks pointless mainly because it is no longer clear who decides anything at all, and on important matters it seems that the choices are not designed by Hong Kong officers or indeed in Hong Kong at all. Writers are of study course used to being disregarded. But it looks there is no extended a general public conversation in which you can be part of. So why trouble?
Meanwhile the deterioration in the legal condition has a single saving grace for scribes with itchy pens: it is all still public.
Enable us start out our tour of the morgue with a visit to the court of magistrate Arthur Lam Hei-wei, presiding above a situation in which a member of the public was accused of assaulting a policeman. The defence was, between other factors, that the defendant did not know the alleged victim was a cop. Details here.
The fascinating public point is Mr Lam’s rationalization for his verdict of responsible: “Magistrate Arthur Lam Hei-wei said he was not convinced Bickett did not know Yu was a police officer.” And so one more lawful landmark goes down the drain.
Burden of proof?
It is not, in the old tradition, up to the defendant in a prison circumstance to show something. The burden of proof is on the prosecution. If the defence is that the defendant did not know something, then it is up to the prosecution to confirm outside of sensible doubt that he did. If justice of the peace Lam had any doubts on this stage then the defence was entitled to the benefit of them, and an acquittal.
The defendant will no question attraction (he is a law firm) but in the meantime was remanded in custody. This will give him some peaceful days to ponder the concern which this circumstance raises: was Mr Lam getting an off-working day, or is it now a typical rule that, in magistrates’ courts at minimum, the defendant is presumed to be guilty?
For a a lot more intricate and technological trouble we can switch to the case of Mr Tong Ying-kit, who is accused of driving a motorbike whilst flying a flag reading through “Free Hong Kong, revolution of our times”, or words to that influence. He eventually collided with three policemen.
Of program Mr Tong’s guilt or innocence is fully a subject for the jury – I beg your pardon, for the three selected nationwide stability judges – hearing the case. The curious point about the prosecution’s scenario is the way they approached an undoubted dilemma: what particularly does “Free Hong Kong, revolution of our times” indicate?
The this means of this time period has now been introduced by the Main Government and sundry persons among the her minions and the law and get industry. But their thoughts are not evidence. The Liaison Office has also condemned the phrase as “implying secession”. But you just cannot connect with them as a witness either.
So it seems, judging by the lavish stream of quotations in the prosecutor’s opening handle, that the prosecution is heading to depend on professional testimony from Associate Professor Lau Chi-pang, who plies the Powerpoint in the Record Section at Lingnan College.
And the factor which bothers me about this arrangement is this: can we regard Professor Lau as – in the legal indicating of the time period – an specialist?
To get started with, he was when recruited only an Affiliate Prof, a correctly respectable rank whose modest altitude can be inferred from the simple fact that I utilised to be a single. Also he is a historian. There is nothing at all about the research of heritage (in which I also have a degree) which qualifies a historian to pronounce with authority on the indicating of words in present-day politics.
The historian may possibly have an belief, a very well-informed belief even, but it is no superior than that of any diligent newspaper reader of standard intelligence.
The educational analyze of the which means of terms is executed by linguists and philologists. If the prosecution could not obtain a helpful a single to conduct on its behalf, this could be simply because to the learned eye the which means of terms like “free” and “revolution” is usually nebulous and subjective. Phrases do not have “official” meanings outside the house of Stalinist states.
It appears also that Prof Lau is not only not an pro, but also not an unbiased specialist. He has been a member of quite a few bodies to which the government appoints its friends and supporters. He is a Justice of the Peace, which in Hong Kong is a duty-totally free honorific to reward devoted “small horses”, and the holder of a Bronze Bauhinia Star, of which you could say a great deal the identical.
He has been an invited member of the Heung Yee Kuk, which implies an allegiance not so much to blue ribbons as to white T-shirts. He is also a non-executive director of a mainland marble mining organization.
Plainly Prof Lau is a respectable pillar of the community and the man to flip to if you want discovered assistance on the origins of regional place names. As an authority on what Mr Tong meant by “Free Hong Kong, revolution of our times”, however, he leaves substantially to be ideal.
If the Division of Justice are unable to recruit a real specialist, then fishing a bogus a single out of the government’s list of “friends who can be trusted” is not a good seem.
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