Hong Kong’s judges have frequently found themselves pilloried by political talking heads of late, and the past few weeks have been no exception. Former ICAC Deputy Commissioner Tony Kwok Man-wai called on Internet users to “hunt down” the judge who granted bail to Hong Kong Indigenous leader Ray Wong Toi-yeung and dig up dirt on judges’ “relationships with pan-democratic parties.”
On the first day of the Lunar New Year, Hong Kongers watched in shock as a series of unfamiliar images unfolded on their screens: a policeman firing two gunshots, burning tyres, and masked men hurling bricks. Such aggression – from civilians as well as police – was unseen on local soil since the 1967 leftist riots.
Just to recap: Superintendent Franklin Chu King-wai, the former commander for the Sha Tin Division, was filmed hitting pedestrians unwittingly caught up in a protest in Mong Kok on November 26, 2014. Some pedestrians were in the path of the said baton and obstructed the baton in the due execution of its duty.
Although the “statement of findings” has not yet been published, and the case is currently under appeal, the court’s decision seems vexing to say the least. It is obviously improbable that anyone who intends to assault another person would choose to do so with her breasts. On the contrary, in most criminal cases involving physical contact between a hand and a breast, it is the person who touches the breast that is convicted of indecent assault.
When I raise the question with women (and some men) about what could be done to address gender discrimination in the workplace, the first response is always: women just need to “lean in.”
Hong Kong is generally perceived as one of the more progressive corners of Asia on the matters of gender and racial acceptance. However, traditional gender roles are still expected of and imposed on women, implicitly and explicitly, in varying degrees. While gender discrimination and rigid gendered expectations for both men and women are widely prevalent, my personal experiences in Hong Kong’s legal industry — where I experienced first-hand the most blatant as well as more subtle forms of discrimination — was a crude but necessary awakening that not even the most privileged and well-educated among us are exempted from gender discrimination, whether as victim or as perpetrator.
I still remember how I became concerned about academic freedom for the first time. I was studying abroad, contemplating whether I should take a class that touched upon the sensitive subject of the Tiananmen Massacre. In the first lecture, a fellow classmate said to me, “Apparently someone went around campus telling other Chinese students not to take the class. So yeah, I’m having second thoughts about whether I should take this class or not.”
I am a Christian and a lawyer, and I support the legalisation of same-sex marriage. As a Christian, I understand the solemnity and sanctity of a marriage ordained by God, and the theological views on homosexuality. As a lawyer, my spiritual heart is given to protecting all marginalised members of society. I do not intend to “convert” anyone from their personal beliefs but I would like to explain how I reconcile the two seemingly conflicting views.
When more high-profile protests such as the Umbrella Movement failed to bring real changes to our political system, what should we realistically aim to achieve through the July 1 marches? When the proliferation of new media allows us to express our political sentiments and views more easily, are protests or marches still relevant? When society is filled with diverse voices, is it still possible to deliver clear and strong messages through rallies? The July 1 march has its unique and symbolic meaning to us. However, if we want to keep on fighting, what is the way forward?
A few weeks ago, Beijing-friendly columnist Chris Wat Wing-yin (屈穎妍) issued a letter through her lawyers to radio host and columnist Tsang Chi-ho (曾志豪), alleging that his article titled “The Wat Wing-yin Phenomenon”, published in Apple Daily, had caused her harm. Wat demanded Tsang publish an apology and clarification. Although the exact contents of Wat’s letter are not publicly available, it is a fair guess that her demands were based on an accusation of defamation.
"So on July 1, no matter what “cause” is at the top of each person’s priority list, Hong Kongers will continue to march, and in doing so, celebrate the birth of the Hong Kong SAR and the continued forging of a stronger identity. Let us march on with confidence and pride that the birth of the Hong Kong SAR gave us the chance to take responsibility for own future."