The FCC’s lunch discussion on the NatSec Law features Emily Lau and Ronny Tong on the rather-predictable side, and John Burns on the more-interesting side, with Albert Chen doing that studiously neutral pro-Beijing thing. Ronny occasionally lets slip that some NatSec occurrences (like the HK47 trial) have ‘terrible optics’. Albert Chen cautions against overly harsh laws against ‘passive resistance’, and a government spokesman quoted in the SCMP begs to differ.
Which brings us to Gwyneth Ho, giving evidence in that HK47 case…
“I believe that most Hongkongers knew deep down in their hearts that fighting for democracy under the Chinese Communist regime has always been a fantasy,” Ho told the court.
Her speech was stopped by Judge Alex Lee, who told Ho to “calm down” and said the court was not an occasion for her to make political statements. Ho said she wanted to finish her sentence, adding it was “unfair” that the judges did not allow her to respond after raising questions.
Whether or not her comments would be allowed depended on their relevance, Lee said, to which Ho interjected immediately and said the three-judge panel had a “limited understanding” of the Legislative Council and questioned how they could evaluate the relevance of her answer.
Judge Andrew Chan responded by saying he has been sitting as a judge for 25 years and he knew what was relevant and what was not. Ho interjected again and said the judge did not know about the “split-voting” system, and she wanted to point out that Chan’s judgement was “very flawed.”
She also defended her description of China’s system as ‘totalitarian’…
“Although ‘totalitarian’ sounds like a criticism, often times there is a definition. The word ‘total’ in English can be understood as total control. It means… everything could be monitored and controlled by the regime,” Ho said.
Ho’s lawyer Trevor Beel followed up by asking if Ho meant it “as a matter of fact” and was not using “totalitarian” as a derogatory term. Lead prosecutor Jonathan Man Tak-ho objected, saying it was a leading question.
High Court Judge Andrew Chan then asked the former reporter to explain her understanding of the Chinese Communist Party, to which Ho said she “did not know” because she has spent “two and a half years in jail” pending trial.
Beel was asked by the judge to define totalitarianism, which he said meant there was only one political party. Chan followed up by asking if Japan was a totalitarian regime and the lawyer said “no.” The judge then pointed to Russia, and the counsel said Russia was a totalitarian regime.
Why?” Chan asked, adding that Japan only had one party.
Ho interjected and said: “What? No, Japan has a communist Party too.”
In case you wondered why there are no juries in these trials. (The ‘calm down’ alone would have alienated every women on the panel.)
Just in from CMP: the erasure of ex-FM Qin Gang.