Dems chief still backtracking on pardon call

Local | Sum Lok-kei Apr 20, 2017
It is not the right time to suggest peace- making by pardoning Occupy protesters and convicted policemen, Democratic Party chairman Wu Chi-wai has admitted.

He said the voluminous reactions to his "peace-making" proposal had far exceeded his expectation. Wu was referring to his suggestion on Tuesday for incoming chief executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor to pardon individuals to heal the political divide.

His list included Occupy protesters, seven jailed officers who assaulted Ken Tsang Kin-chiu, as well as Franklin Chu King-wai, who is on trial for the assault of an Occupy protester.

Wu had since retracted his proposal, saying that he did not "think it through."

"At the time I was too fixated on the angle of resolving social division, and I did not consider thoroughly the stances and feelings of those involved [in the arrests]," Wu said on a radio program yesterday.

He reiterated that the proposal was his "personal opinion," adding he should have discussed it with the Democratic Party before making such a controversial suggestion. Wu also refused to say whether he thinks his party's reputation has been harmed in the process, but added that he is "doing his best" to mitigate the impact.

"I've retracted my words, apologized to my party members and society. I've also promised to be more careful with my words from now on," Wu said.

Cheng Yiu-tong, a non-official member of the Executive Council, said it was "impossible" for the government to pardon Occupy protesters because Hong Kong is a place with the rule of law. If an amnesty can be arranged for the protesters, Cheng thinks others may "try their luck" and commit more crimes, assuming they could also be pardoned.

Path of Democracy convener Ronny Tong Ka-wah said Wu's aspiration to bring the government and the pro- democracy camp into reconciliation was praiseworthy, but he did not agree with the method.

While convicts of serious crimes have had their death sentences commuted before the handover on a "humanitarian basis," Tong said he "dare not comment" on whether pardons should be used as a tool to facilitate "political trading."

Tong, a barrister, added that he believes such an act could harm the rule of law and will do no good to the relationship between the central government and pan-dems, or the ties between the SAR government and the Legislative Council.

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June 2017