Pro-Beijing lawyer and legislator Junius Ho has drawn flak from none other than Hong Kong’s leader after he publicly called for independence activists to be “killed without mercy”.
Ho made the comments during a rally on Sunday calling for the University of Hong Kong to sack law professor and Occupy Central founder Benny Tai, whom he and other protesters say ignited civil unrest through the pro-independence movement.
During the event, Ho said to reporters, “If [independence supporters] are not killed, what else are we to do?”.
In response, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said during a press conference this morning that “cruel, insulting, and threatening” comments were unacceptable regardless of political stance.
While Lam did not name the lawmaker, when the chief executive was specifically asked about Ho, she said, “I have already answered that question.”
However, Lam left no room for interpretation on her stance regarding the independence debate that has been taking place in local universities. “There is no room for any discussion on the independence of Hong Kong because that breaches ‘one country, two systems’, which underlines the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong. That violates the Basic Law, and is absolutely not in the overall interest of Hong Kong,” she said.
Ho has also attracted criticism from his pro-democracy peers. A total of 22 pan-democratic lawmakers issued a joint statement yesterday which claimed Ho had violated the law by expressing hate speech, and accused the legislator of “crossing the bottom line of free speech and morality”.
Executive Council member and barrister Ronny Tong agreed, saying on a radio show yesterday that Ho may have breached two sections of the Public Order Ordinance, which prohibit inciting violence at public gatherings, and using abusive or insulting words in public with the intent to provoke a breach of the peace.
Justice Secretary Rimsky Yuen has conversely attempted to brush off Ho’s remarks. Yuen, who was instrumental in the ousting of six pro-democracy lawmakers and reportedly the jailing of three Occupy activists, said it was important to “consider the context” when deciding whether Ho’s comments were in fact criminal.
(We’d just like to remind you that this is the same man who led to a democratically elected legislator being ejected from parliament for simply raising the tone of one character during his swearing in ceremony.)
For his part, Ho doesn’t seem to be bothered by the controversy. At 2am today, the lawmaker wrote a rambling post on Facebook in which he claimed that he used the word “kill” to mean “halt”, which closed with “Ha ha ha (call the police and report me for intimidation, idiots!)”.