Hong Kong law enforcement does it Beijing’s way
HONG KONG – In the aftermath of the Occupy movement, the government is giving out clear signals that it will use sledgehammers to crack nuts.
In the process it may well keep stirring resentments, particularly among the younger generation who spearheaded Occupy, but also among the many less committed people who are uncomfortable with the authoritarian drift of a political leadership taking its cue from the Communist Party.
It is not merely in the political sphere that the cost of dissent is rising, at least if it involves criticism of mainland enterprises. This trend will ultimately threaten Hong Kong’s position as an open society where opinions can be freely aired about financial matters as well as political and social ones.
The police sledgehammer was in action between the Christmas and New Year holidays with the arrest of a 14-year-old girl for a chalk drawing of flowers on a wall already covered with Occupy graffiti. Normal practice for the police dealing with a very minor and one-off offense by a juvenile would be a caution. At most it would be a charge before a juvenile court which would most likely be dismissed or the subject of the mildest punishment.
But eager to issue threats to the young, and to their parents, in this case the police took the girl to a magistrate with the demand that she be held without trial in juvenile detention center supposedly for her own protection.
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