Barrister: Police rightful to enter campus and enforce law
China Daily

Hong Kong Senior Counsel Ronny Tong Ka-wah talks to China Daily in an interview. Tong makes it sure that the police force is entitled to enter any place to perferm duty for the purpose of maintaining the city's order and safety. (Photo: China Daily)

The Hong Kong Police Force has the right to enter any place, public or not, to prevent crimes or make arrests in order to maintain the city’s law and order, Senior Counsel Ronny Tong Ka-wah told China Daily on Monday.

The remarks came amid the daylong standoff between hundreds of black-clad protesters at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, and the police officers who have besieged the vicinity of the campus — and at some point entered the campus — to make arrests.

Tong stressed that using universities as a shelter to escape from the police is something that a community cannot accept.

“There is no place in Hong Kong where the long arm of the law cannot reach,” he said. “It is a fallacy to think that a university campus is a private place to the extent that police cannot enter and make arrests.”

The law-enforcement body has a right to enter anyplace to ensure law and order is maintained, Tong said. “If the police are there to prevent a crime or that the police have to be there to make an arrest, then of course, the police have a right to be there.”

Tong said he is “heartbroken” to see that the Chinese University of Hong Kong and now also the PolyU were vandalized and used as bases for paralyzing Hong Kong, and for attacking the police.

“I can see that the violence has been escalating practically daily, and that is a very heartbreaking fact for people of Hong Kong to take in,” he said. “I think the police have been responding in a very restrained manner.”

He said he hopes the rioters will lay down their arms and leave the university peacefully, and respect law and order.

Tong, who’s also an executive councilor, said he is “disappointed” that up to this point, Hong Kong has yet to have a case decided by the judiciary in relation to the rioting that has taken place since early June.

'Justice delayed is justice denied'

“We are now in November. We have yet to see a case come to court, and to allow the court to give a clear and loud voice as to how the law regards the violent things which have been committed over the last five months,” Tong said.

It is important that cases are brought to court as soon as possible so the court can hand down deterrent sentences, Tong said. In addition, it will also enable innocent people to be acquitted, he stressed.

“Justice delayed is justice denied,” he said, noting that the first case of the illegal “Occupy Central” movement in 2014 was not brought before a court until two and a half years later. “That is certainly far too late.”

He said he understands that up until now, some 4,000 people have been arrested, and it takes time to prepare these cases.

However, he believes the police and the Department of Justice should accelerate the prosecution process, noting that the judiciary is not the one to be blamed for the delay.

If the police or the Justice Department are short of manpower, then there should be an increase of resources or increase of employee personnel, he said.