Former Legislative Council Finance Committee chairperson Ng Leung-sing has said that the activists jailed in connection to protests over a controversial development proposal “deserved their punishment.” He said he believed the public “welcomes the ruling.”
On Tuesday, the court jailed 13 activists involved in clashes outside the Legislative Council in June 2014. The demonstrations were in response to Ng’s attempts to end a filibuster by the pro-democracy camp over the northeast New Territories development proposal.
The activists were found guilty of unlawful assembly and initially given community service orders. They had already completed their sentences, but the Department of Justice lodged a review of sentence calling for harsher punishment.
On a Commercial Radio programme on Thursday, Ng said, “After hearing the decision, I believe many members of the public would feel that disrupting order in the Legislative Council would have ultimately led to such a ruling, and [the protesters] deserved their punishment.”
Ng also said that, as chair of the committee, he was acting in the public interest when working to ensure that there was a vote on the project within a reasonable time.
Ng added that there were those who attributed the clash to his actions, but this was confusing the cause with the effect. Ng stated that the protests had been ongoing for a period of time, and there was huge pressure on the legislature to vote on the motion.
Ng had, later that month, forced a vote on the HK$340 million preliminary funding plan whilst pan-democrats were out of their seats.
Ng also said that what happened was not a result of the Legislative Council’s acts, but of those who organised the demonstrations and disrupted social order.
“The members of the public welcome this reasonable ruling,” Ng said.
Ng added that he was in support of expressing opinions in a calm and rational manner, but did not support acts such as using bamboo sticks and weapons to storm the Legislative Council. He said he hoped the individuals concerned had learned their lesson.
Hundreds attended a rally on Wednesday night in support of the 13, and also of Occupy activists Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow, who face a similar legal challenge over their sentences. The trio were earlier found guilty over their participation in the Civic Square clash which sparked the 2014 Occupy protests.
Pro-democracy organisations in Hong Kong and Taiwan have criticised the ruling and voiced support for the activists.