By Chris Yeung –
Less than one day after Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor was elected as the next chief executive on Sunday, she walked the talk of rebuilding unity in the society. In a marked departure from her shyness in meeting men and women in the streets during the campaign, she launched a charm offensive around town yesterday. In her victory speech on Sunday, she declared the election is over; now it is time for unity.
Her plea for unity was turned an embarrassing irony as nine pro-democracy activists in the Occupy Central protests were asked to report to the Police Headquarters Monday night. They were formally told they would be arrested for their roles in the 2014 uproar.
The Occupy trio – Reverend Chu Yiu-ming, Benny Tai Yiu-ting and Chan Kin-man – each face three charges relating to public nuisance over their roles in the protests.
The six others who accompanied the trio on Monday night including legislators face charges for actions police allege were committed between September 27 and 28, 2014.
That the beginning of what could be the most significant batch of court cases relating to the Occupy yesterday falls on the first day of Mrs Lam as the chief executive-elect is intriguing.
It is unbelievable that that is a gift from the departing chief executive Leung Chun-ying for his preferred candidate. After all, the Department of Justice led by minister Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung is given independent power of prosecution, presumably that also covers when to do what.
The fact the justice and police authorities seem to have ignored the sensitivity of the post-election day in taking the Occupy cases forward shows the simple truth that the Leung administration cannot wait. They are eagerly keen to bring to an end to the aftermath of the 2014 clash as soon as practicable.
Seen from that perspective, it has not come as a surprise that the Police yesterday arrested and charged Franklin Chu, a retired police superintendent, who allegedly hit passers-by during the Occupy Campaign.
Occupy cases cause new wounds
The two batches of cases followed the conviction of seven police officers for assaulting an activist Tsang Kin-chiu at the Tamar Park during the Occupy Central movement. The conviction has sparked an angry demonstration by off-duty police officers, their families and supporters, straining again the ties between police and citizens.
The spate of Occupy cases is a grim reminder to Mrs Lam of the enormity of difficulty in reconnecting the society with the imminent end of the five-year turbulence under the reign of Leung.
The harsh reality is that the Occupy, or more accurately, the repercussions of the 79-day protests have and will cause frictions among the populace. The seven-police officers’ case is illuminating.
True, the court ruling has put an end to the assault case although it was followed by an appeal by the convicted officers. It has given rise to a fresh row between the pro-democracy citizens and the residents who back the police and the government.
Even before the old wounds are fully healed, there are fresh injuries inflicted on the hearts of people, which were caused by the court ruling and the sharply-diverse response from the people to it.
Yesterday’s cases, together with more of its kind that may surface in the next few months or so, look certain to pour salt to the wounds of Occupy and, more important, relations between the pan-democrats and their supporters and the central and Hong Kong government and their supporters.
Pre-July 1 Hong Kong highly charged
The city’s political atmosphere will be highly charged and inflammable in the lead-up to July 1 and the early months of the Carrie Lam administration, to say the least.
Mrs Lam may be anxious to remove the political stigma of “C Y 2.0” and to usher a new era of “Carrie Lam 1.0” even before she is sworn in on July 1. There is no doubt she will make an early start of her administration by rolling out new initiatives she has promised. They include an extra HK$5 billion funding for education.
In an attempt to mend ties with the pan-democrats in the legislature, she will seek a dialogue with the opposition force although none of them have nominated and voted for her in the Sunday election.
Like what she did yesterday, she will walk an extra mile to try to prove critics of her being a splitter to be wrong.
But yesterday’s Occupy cases show her hands are tied and legs being pulled even if she is keen to reconnect the fragmented society.
Chris Yeung, Chief Writer of newly-launched CitizenNews, is founder and editor of the Voice of Hong Kong website. He is a veteran journalist formerly worked with the South China Morning Post and the Hong Kong Economic Journal. He writes on Greater China issues.
Photo: CitizenNews pictures
This article also appears on CitizenNews, www.hkcnews.com.