CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 15 September 2018

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Petition to investigate Mong Kok rumble

HONG KONG (SE): A online signature petition was launched by the Justice and Peace Commission on March 17 calling on the Hong Kong government to set up an independent investigation committee to look into the rumble that took place between police and a violent mob in Mong Kok on February 8.

The petition statement was posted in various parishes starting from April 3 inviting parishioners to sign it.

In a statement, the commission called on the government to set up an independent investigation committee made up of judges or retired judges to look at what happened on the evening of the Lunar New Year and during the early hours of the following day, what triggered the incident and the underlying or the root causes of the drastic action.

The commission is also demanding a proper hearing of and search for suggestions on policies and governance process in order to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.

The commission was critical of the Hong Kong government for quickly labelling the incident a riot soon after it ended on the morning of February 9 without making any proper investigation into its causes or conduct.

It says it is disappointing that the government immediately condemned, arrested and prosecuted those taking part in the rumble without informing the public why, making an in-depth investigation into the way the police handled the matter or suggesting ways to prevent a repeat of the rumble in the future.

The commission points out that many people joined in the rumble, which shows that the blame cannot be put only on a small group of so-called thugs.

It expressed concern that the incident may be rooted in public discontent with the government, which can hardly be appeased by randomly arresting a few people.

It fears that if the government chooses to respond with a high-handed approach without tracing the causes back to their roots, more violent resistance may happen in the future, which will not do society any favours.

The statement from the commission goes on to say that if the people cannot see and appreciate that the government is acting in a civilised manner, they may resort to primitive ways of resisting government policies and some among the most desperate my take crazy risks.

The commission believes that if the government does not bother to trace the root causes, society will pay a high price for its lack of action and concern.

The commission recalled that after the riot in Nathan Road 50 years ago, the colonial government set up a Kowloon Riot Investigation Committee to analyse the underlying causes of the incident.

The colonial government later accepted the suggestions of the report from the committee by improving its governance, particularly in the area of communication with the public.

“While the previous regime could be so brave in doing a review and make improvements, why can’t the present one do it?” the commission asks.

The Justice and Peace Commission believes an investigation into the matter is the common wish of all parties, including the general public and prominent community leaders, as well as civil servants, as no one wants to see society self-destruct.

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