Steve’s Letter to the Editor
Some of you saw my photo on Facebook of the “Letter to the Editor” that I wrote and was published in the South China Post newspaper this week. Some asked for a full reprint as they couldn’t read the top of the picture and, not being in Hong Kong, did not have quick access to the paper.
Just for a bit of context;
The letter is a response to an op-ed piece from a few days previous when a columnist was really calling into question some aspects of legality in Hong Kong. What was especially troubling to me was that this columnist sits on the Basic Law Committee of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee. For the layman, that means he helped arrange the mini-constitution (The Basic Law) which protects the rights of Hong Kong since the assumption of sovereignty by China from Great Britain 15 years ago.
Meaning this guy is supposed to be protecting the Rule of Law in Hong Kong…not call it into question!
The piece was really chafing against me all that Friday evening and the little voice inside said “Just forget about it…”
Saturday morning came and I couldn’t forget about it…
… so I banged out the following response to the op-ed:
To the South China Morning Post:
I found the premise behind Lau Nai-keung’s recent opinion piece (Hong Kong needs a time out from self serving legislators) to be very troubling. Without coming out and saying it he uses the recent incident of the Legco filibuster to call in to question the very idea of “rule of law” in Hong Kong. He contrasts a “Western mindset” whose legal procedure trumps common sense as being responsible for the filibuster as opposed to the Chinese way where, “legality has no overriding authority.”
First, creating a confrontational dichotomy between Western and Chinese ways is not entirely helpful in an International city like Hong Kong. Second, to suggest that Hong Kongers may find a society where “legality has no overriding authority” appealing is largely insulting. Mr. Lau would replace legal authority with “rules (that) should be adaptable to changing conditions….if that purpose is good, then it is OK; but if bad, then no way.” The Hong Kong people would then be subject to the whims of what was thought to be “good” that day. And whose version of what is “good” do we use? Mr. Lau’s idea of what is good would certainly be different than that of “Longhair” Leung Kwok-hung, and our new Chief Executive elect Leung Chun-ying’s version of “common sense” may be different from other community and business leaders.
In the years leading up to the Handover, when even the most ardent Hong Kong Chinese nationalists were asked if there was any positive contribution British colonialism made to Hong Kong, most would grudgingly admit, “the rule of law”. To chip away at this precious commodity Hong Kong has, and which many countries desire, is to do so at our peril.
Park Island, Ma Wan
My letter was published 4 days later…
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