Pro-Beijing lawmaker and lawyer Junius Ho has come under fire after he tried to justify the misconduct of seven police officers who were convicted on Tuesday of assault against activist Ken Tsang during the 2014 pro-democracy Occupy protests.
“Did Tsang become paralysed or get seriously injured?” Ho said in a Facebook live video on Thursday, a day before the officers were handed a two-year jail sentence at the District Court.
Calling Tsang “some jerk” and “rubbish social worker,” the lawyer said: “He could walk and run for election afterwards. He didn’t sustain serious injuries or permanent scars, so practically speaking, the gravity of the crime was low.”
Ho argued that the seven officers should be given community service orders instead of jail time. Even if they were sent to jail, he said, “three months in prison – ideally with a suspended sentence – would be more than sufficient.”
“They didn’t point a gun at protesters. They only hit Tsang twice in a corner to vent their anger,” Ho said, adding that their action amounted to “small punishment in order to prevent someone from making a bigger mistake in the future.”
He emphasised that no one should commit any offences. However, “the seven officers didn’t do it for self-interest, nor did they have any corrupt intent,” he said.
“They went beyond procedure while enforcing the law, and now they face legal consequences. It is regretful. It is wrong but understandable.”
“Let’s not forget the Occupy movement was a very special occasion,” he added. “It was an unprecedented illegal event.”
Lawyer Kevin Yam of the Progressive Lawyers Group called Ho’s comment “shameless.”
“As a former chair and current committee member of the Law Society, he found it acceptable to abuse public power to illegally punish someone. I don’t believe this is what the law faculty of Anglia Ruskin University – Ho’s alma mater – teaches its students,” he said.
Ho’s remarks also attracted heavy criticism on social media. Some online commenters called him “a lawyer who distorts the law” and “an enemy of the rule of law.” A person wrote: “Lawmakers like him set a bad example for our children. As a parent, I am very upset at his statement.”
After Friday’s sentencing, Ho described the convicted officers as “the Magnificent Seven” and said their sentence was too heavy. He questioned why the organisers behind the Occupy protests have not been prosecuted.
Other pro-Beijing lawmakers such as Ben Chan Han-pan also made similar remarks, arguing that the principle of equality before the law was not upheld.