Hong Kong’s leader on Tuesday hit back against criticism of the city’s courts, this time over a pro-Beijing politician’s condemnation of judges as “sinners of society” for overturning the jail sentences of 13 activists last week.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor was responding to Stanley Ng Chau-pei, a local delegate to the national legislature, who labelled five Court of Final Appeal judges “killers of young people” in a Facebook post.
Lam described insults and personal attacks against judges as “regrettable”.
“It is not the first time I am [making such remarks] here, and that has nothing to do with one’s political stance,” she said.
“It is unacceptable for people to make inappropriate comments over court decisions, to vilify the judges in contempt of court, or even to launch personal attacks against a particular judge because they are unhappy with the judgment.”
It is unacceptable for people to make inappropriate comments over court decisions
Carrie Lam, chief executive
Such acts dealt a blow to the spirit of the city’s judiciary, including its system, she added.
The remarks by Ng, who heads the pro-Beijing Federation of Trade Unions, stemmed from the top court’s decision last Friday to free the 13 activists, who had each received jail sentences of up to 13 months from a lower court for unlawful assembly after an “extremely violent” protest outside the Legislative Council complex on June 13, 2014.
The judges endorsed new sentencing guidelines calling for stiffer punishments for violent, unlawful assemblies but questioned the lower court’s decision to use a 15-month jail term as the starting point for sentencing. The defendants were freed on the grounds that they had suffered a grave injustice.
In two separate posts on his Facebook page last Friday and on Monday, Ng blasted the top court judges for freeing the activists.
“How could this be an act of loving and protecting young people? [The judges] are killing them!” the National People’s Congress delegate said.
How could this be an act of loving and protecting young people? [The judges] are killing them!
Stanley Ng, Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions
“These criminals are definitely not going to repent, and this will set off a ticking time bomb in society.”
The court’s decision would “poison” a generation, Ng claimed, accusing the judges of being “the killers of young people” and “sinners of society”.
Ng defended his remarks on Monday after his post drew criticism from pan-democrats, insisting he had the right to point out mistakes made by judges.
He could not be reached for comment on Tuesday, but left a message on his Facebook page accusing some media of misquoting him.
This is not the first time the government has warned against attacks on the city’s courts and judges.
In June, the Department of Justice called out personal attacks and insulting comments after a spate of online abuse was directed at High Court judge Madam Justice Anthea Pang Po-kam, who had thrown independence activist Edward Leung Tin-kei behind bars for six years for his role in the 2016 Mong Kok riot.
The department said such comments – even on social media – could undermine the city’s judicial independence and constituted contempt of court.