Hong Kong Bar Association has been shamefully silent on protester violence and those who support it 蔡維邦稱大律師公會對示威者暴力沉默 公會:一直譴責任何暴力 | Forum

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Admin Oct 18

Hong Kong Bar Association has been shamefully silent on protester violence and those who support it 


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Edwin Choy has been a practising barrister in Hong Kong since 2001. He was until recently a vice-chairman of the Hong Kong Bar Association


However noble their goals, protesters’ extreme violence against property and people can no longer be excused. And yet pundits and, more importantly, members of the Hong Kong Bar Association continue to make excuses for them


I suspect my mindset must have been hampered by the narrowness of my practice as a criminal lawyer. I find myself forced to identify what I have been seeing on my TV screen for the past few months as grave crimes committed against our community: burning bank branches, destroying grocery stores and restaurants, desecrating crucial railway stations and brutally assaulting other citizens, apparently for holding different political views. Anyone barely civilised would understand that indiscriminate violence is counterproductive. This probably explains why criminal laws in virtually all civilised jurisdictions proscribe violence.Thus, our own criminal law lays down boundaries to restrict the behaviour of individuals, without which it would be impossible to outlaw physical conflicts among various members of the community.Yet, when a large number of people refuse to respect the law, public order disintegrates rapidly. This naturally causes significant disruptions to the lives of many of our polity’s honest and hard-working citizens.


In the context of the present situation, the collapse of order is bringing significant economic woes and may in the end deal a most severe blow against Hong Kong’s unique but increasingly precarious system of limited self-rule.


I appreciate that many youths yearn for the realisation of certain political ideals. It is admirable for them to hold dear these ideals, and they may in time build up visions of a more equitable society.


Then, if they are to engage in greater in-depth studies, experimentation and rethinking, this generation of youths may eventually blossom into future leaders; their creative proposals could in time help disentangle some of the trickiest of our political and social problems. All these can be and should be attempted through rational dialogue.However, in the past few months, many youths have been stirred into abandoning reason and replacing it with barbarism. Instead of peacefully advocating their stances, they have resorted to destructive conduct, taking them far beyond the set boundaries laid down by the law. Too many of them have by now committed serious criminal offences including rioting, arson, criminal damage and inflicting grievous bodily harm.


These youths apparently know how to insist on their own rights. Yet, at the time when they are causing widespread damage to property and public facilities, and disrupting the lives of many of their fellow citizens, these same youngsters have consistently adopted the most cavalier of attitudes with regard to the rights of others.


At the same time, many of them portray themselves as willing martyrs for their cause and some even declare that they are ready to serve substantial jail time.My experience in criminal practice has informed me that there is nothing worth romanticising about the criminal process. If and when these riot cases are examined by our courts, attention will be focused on the horrors of the injuries sustained by the victims and the destructive acts committed by the defendants. Eventually, those found guilty would face lengthy imprisonment, meaning that their lives would be put on hold for a long time.


For me, the greatest absurdity is that all the sufferings and destruction serve no meaningful purpose; Hong Kong has become embroiled in the flames of senseless nihilism. At the end of the day, no sensible person expects that the continuing unrest will result in “true democracy”.


I was therefore hoping that my profession would take an unequivocal stance in denouncing the mindless acts of lawlessness committed during the unrest. Those perpetrating violence, vandalism and other crimes should know from those practising law that their acts constitute serious crimes and are not tolerable in any civilised society.Furthermore, I find it extremely disturbing that some opinion leaders in Hong Kong have sought to offer excuses on behalf of the rioters; they try to shift the blame onto the government or other parties. That the government has mishandled the situation is beyond doubt. Additionally, there may be indications that some police officers have used excessive force when dealing with the rioters.


Nevertheless, it is clear to me that someone else’s mistakes cannot justify one’s crimes. Our law does not recognise retaliation as a defence against a criminal charge. The rioters’ rampant acts of violence can never be excused on the basis that others have done something wrong previously.


I saw an acute need for my profession to denounce those offering nothing but the most specious of reasonings in shifting the attention away from those actually committing those criminal acts. When the rioters are led to think that they have secured allies from within our ranks, they are likely to be emboldened into taking even more radical actions, thereby raising the risk of greater harm to our fellow citizens.I thus felt strongly that the bar association must express its strongest disapproval against both the perpetrators of the ongoing unrest and those who provide a spin on these rioters.As it became increasingly apparent to me that a substantial majority of my colleagues on the Bar Council remained highly reticent to state, with unequivocal clarity, that both the rioters and those who proffer excuses on their behalf should be condemned, I was convinced that my outlook diverged too much from the council for me to remain among its rank.


明報: 蔡維邦稱大律師公會對示威者暴力沉默 公會:一直譴責任何暴力

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【18:53】大律師公會回應指,公會一直毫無保留地譴責由任何人作出、任何形式的暴力,日後將會繼續在適當的時候發聲明。公會對資深大律師蔡維邦的個人意見沒有回應。


【15:15】曾擔任香港大律師公會副主席的資深大律師蔡維邦,上周去信公會主席戴啟思及其他執委,辭任公會副主席及其他職務。蔡維邦今(15日)在《南華早報》撰文,表示身為大律師必須對近日示威者的暴力予以譴責,惟大律師公會卻選擇沉默,蔡與公會分歧甚廣,因而離任。本報已向大律師公會查詢,正待回覆。


蔡維邦在文章表示,大律師公會對於示威者的暴力「可恥地保持沉默」。他提及,近日在電視上看見示威者縱火燒銀行,破壞商店、餐廳、港鐵站,以及襲擊政見不同者,他們目無法紀,令社會秩序瓦解,不但影響市民,亦對香港經濟及有限的自治帶來嚴重影響。他說,樂見年輕人有政治理念,經深入研習及思考,或是未來領袖。不過,青年近月放棄理性討論,將問題訴諸野蠻及暴力,甚至犯下嚴重罪行,這是目空一切,漠視他人權益的行為。


浪漫化犯法行為不值得蔡維邦留意到,不少犯法的示威者宣稱已有心理準備入獄,及被標籤成「義士」,以他執業經驗而言,浪漫化(romanticising)犯法行為是不值得。蔡維邦又指出,各種破壞行為絕無意義,無人會認為持續的紛亂最終會達致「真民主」。


他人錯誤不能合理化罪行蔡維邦嚴斥為「暴徒(Rioters)」開脫罪責的意見領袖,稱雖然政府在處理今次事件有誤,一些警察亦可能濫暴,但仍然不能合理化一個人的罪行。蔡維邦強調,大律師特別有責任譴責暴徒及縱容他們的人,可是大律師公會的大部分成員卻一直沉默;由於他的立場與公會分歧甚廣,因此離任。


資料顯示,48歲的蔡維邦專長刑事訟訴,去年中獲委任為資深大律師,去年曾任旺角大衝突案中的被告梁天琦的辯護律師,他替梁天琦求情時曾說,如他一般年紀的港人,只貪圖逸樂,沒有為香港民主爭取過什麼,自責指「我呢個generation嘅人做過咩呢?咩都冇做過」,又說過「今時今日發生嘅事,係我呢個generation製造出嚟」。

The Forum post is edited by Admin Oct 18
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