Hong Kong court sent wrong signals to radical protesters over face mask ban, say mainland Chinese analysts

South China Morning Post Dipublikasikan 04.11, 19/11/2019
Hong Kong court sent wrong signals to radical protesters over face mask ban, say mainland Chinese analysts

A ruling by the Hong Kong High Court on Monday that the government's anti-mask law was unconstitutional has sent the wrong message to the radical protesters, according to mainland analysts.

They said that the outcome of an expected appeal by the city's government would determine whether Beijing would intervene.

The academics also expressed worries that the ruling may reinforce the suspicion that the Hong Kong judiciary has taken a too lenient approach to cases that involve national security and sovereignty.

In a closely watched judicial review case brought by pro-democracy politicians, two Hong Kong High Court judges ruled on Monday that the mask ban introduced by the Hong Kong government under emergency legislation was "incompatible with the Basic Law", the city's mini-constitution.

Li Xiaobing, a Hong Kong specialist and law professor at Nankai University in Tianjin, described the ruling as "unwise" and feared it would send the wrong message to the radical protesters.

"The judgment sent a blurred signal to the outside world and the radicals would feel hugely encouraged," said Li.

"In a way this signal will have the effect of abetting those radical political forces."

Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of Global Times, a tabloid affiliated to the party mouthpiece People's Daily, also expressed disappointment of the ruling in a post on Weibo.

"Many people will see the ruling as the High Court's accommodation of everything committed by these masked rioters," Hu wrote

"It will further confuse right and wrong in the Hong Kong society, and prompt more people to take a sympathetic view of the rioters instead of condemning their violence."

Legal analysts expressed concern that the measure could

Legal experts, however, were more measured over what actions Beijing may take.

They said the Hong Kong government was likely to appeal against the High Court ruling, and suggested that if that appeal fails, the National People's Congress Standing Committee could issue an interpretation of the Basic Law that "corrects" the judgment.

Since the 1997 handover, the NPC Standing Committee has issued five interpretations of the Basic Law.

"It depends on the next step of the legal process," said Li, adding that an interpretation by the committee would help clarify any confusion about the law and safeguard Hong Kong's legal system.

"But (Beijing) also needs to take into account how such an interpretation would be received by the legal profession in Hong Kong," Li said.

Tian Feilong, an specialist in Hong Kong policy and a law professor with Beihang University in Beijing, said interpretation of the Basic Law remained a viable option for the NPC Standing Committee.

Tian, however, said Monday's ruling would reinforce a commonly held view among mainland critics that the Hong Kong judiciary has been too lenient in handling politically sensitive cases.

Meanwhile, a Beijing-based law professor who requested anonymity because he has been warned not to comment on Hong Kong's affairs, said the ruling was an example of Hong Kong's judicial independence.

"At least this shows that (in Hong Kong) the government cannot arbitrarily interfere with a court's rulings," he said.

Over the weekend, the mainland's propaganda machinery has stepped up its warnings of the protests in Hong Kong that have turned increasingly violent.

On Monday People's Daily warned that there was no room to compromise in the "struggles" with the rioters.

Additional reporting by Nectar Gan

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