The rule of law cuts both ways

City talk | Susan Liang 3 May 2019

The jailing of four leaders of the Occupy Central movement is a message to all those who aspire to advance their own ideas of democracy that they should do it "peacefully."

By occupying Central, the life and hub of this city, it is a form of "violence" imposed on the silent majority who may not share in their fight for immediate full democracy.

The offer from China was one man, one vote, but from a pool of preselected candidates, which was rejected by the pro-democracy camp.

The silent majority prefers stability and a step-by-step progression to democracy through negotiations with the central government.

In Macau, I understand there is only one candidate for the election of chief executive, and no one has taken to the streets yet upon hearing the news.

The occupation of Central lasted 79 straight days, resulted in a loss to the city of billions of dollars, and achieved nothing.

I think the sentences meted out by the court were fair and measured.

But what is more important is the way forward and for pan-democrats to sit down and discuss a step-by-step political reform package, using the last one as a starting point.

That was unfortunately rejected by them as they wanted full democracy overnight, which is impossible for Beijing to accept as we are at the doorsteps of a communist country and granting full democracy immediately would, in the eyes of the central government, risk destabilizing China.

Save for a handful in the democratic camp I find its leaders to be naive, and I often wonder how Benny Tai Yiu-ting is allowed to continue teaching at the University of Hong Kong when there is a risk of him influencing students in politics when his job is simply to teach the law. The same applies to Chan Kin-man, the other academic among the Occupy cofounders.

As for Chu Yiu-ming, who received a suspended sentence, it is his natural instinct as a man of the church to want to convert hopefully the whole of China to Christianity.

In the meantime, Beijing should improve its justice system so as to assure those concerned about the extradition bill that those rendered to China will get a fair trial.

For example, the former Interpol chief, Meng Hongwei, was arrested during a visit to China and his fate is still unknown.

He should be allowed a lawyer and visits from his family, for now all we know is that he is on suspicion of accepting bribes.

These are things that China should improve and there should be transparency as to the charges against him.

Compare that to the case in Canada of Sabrina Meng Wanzhou of Huawei.

At least she is out on bail and will likely receive a fair trial in Vancouver.

Grand ideas like the "Belt and Road" initiative will not impress other countries if the judicial system in China does not match up to Western or world standards.

Even Japan has allowed former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn out on bail, albeit on very stringent terms.

Of course, the worst is Saudi Arabia.

The country not only has beheadings and secret trials, it also crucifies some of them after execution and yet investors are prepared to overlook such atrocities and still put their money there.

Riyadh's lack of responsiveness to criticism is quite amazing, and yet it says it wants to promote investment and tourism to the country with its Saudi Vision 2030 initiative.

is a lawyer who likes to speak her mind on issues that concern the man on the street.

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