The rule of law is a fundamental core value of Hong Kong and the entire community must respect it and court decisions.
This was the message from Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen to legislators today, saying the aspiration to attain universal suffrage cannot be used as a pretext to challenge the rule of law.
Quoting Justice Au’s judgement on the injunction application, the rule of law includes the notion that every citizen and the government should obey and comply with the law, and if defendants believe a court order is wrongly granted, they should first obey it and then challenge the order through the judicial process.
He said it is wrong to suggest the rule of law is not challenged if people disobey the law first and then accept the consequences. The rule of law cannot realistically and effectively operate in a civilised and orderly society on this basis. The rule of law must be built upon the due administration of justice for the enforcement of court orders and the law.
The judgement also says there have been repeated wrong suggestions by public figures on the rule of law, causing unwarranted misunderstanding on the concept.
He said the Government welcomes the courts' exposition of the rule of law, and appeals to people to obey and comply with the law and court orders, and to express their views in a peaceful and law abiding manner, or else there will be profound damage to Hong Kong.
The Department of Justice has worked to educate the public on the rule of law through various channels, including the annual Prosecution Week and Law Week. Legal and rule of law education is also included in primary and secondary school curricula.
Speaking on the power of citizens to arrest, Mr Yuen said it is only applicable to an arrestable offence, which means an offence which the sentence is fixed by law or subject to at least 12 months in jail. Police have the statutory power to arrest suspects, and people witnessing any offence should report it to Police immediately.