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April 2012

A moral and legal limbo

Possibly the Letters Editor of the SCMP deliberately publishes Pierce Lam’s increasingly hysterical letters in their unadulterated form so that we can get the full beauty of his unique literary style.  Or maybe he’s an idiot.   

But introducing the James Bulger case into a debate about one boy injuring another boy in a football match does seem a little heavy-handed.

Explain refusal to prosecute

Your report ("No case for soccer boy over kick to head", April 17) raises grave questions of ethics and law.

Jim Hackett, head coach of the English Schools Foundation's soccer programme, said the boy who kicked the other boy's head instead of the ball "did not do anything wrong". He must explain his stance.

Uploaded to the internet, the head-kicking evidence is now in the public domain, available all over the world for viewing. It prevails over ill-advised censorship attempts to support the public's legitimate demand for a fair account.

It is disturbing that the police, after seeking legal advice, unconditionally released the 10-year-old boy previously arrested "on suspicion of kicking a 12-year-old in the head".

The James Bulger case in Britain shows that doli incapax and the availability of evidence for public review and comment cannot preclude criminal prosecution. If the authority had other reasons for non-prosecution, it has refused to disclose them. Such a refusal has put the city in a moral and legal limbo and caused suspicions of partiality and incompetence.

For every prosecution, the court will give detailed reasons for its decision. Every decision not to prosecute bears judicial significance as it denies the public from getting, and pre-empts the court from making, a judicial decision.

In the US, grand juries and not bureaucrats decide whether to prosecute.

As representatives of the people, juries do not give any reasons for their decisions. Bureaucrats aren't the people's representatives. They shouldn't shorten the due process of any case of great social significance without giving reasons.

Consider the Hong Kong Standard circulation case.  Elsie Leung Oi-sie, then secretary for justice, honourably gave three reasons for her much respected departure from doctrinaire tenets and made public her department's account for not charging Sally Aw Sian.  Apparently these three reasons - allegations about the authority's bad faith, its improper considerations, and public comment on publicised evidence - also apply in the head-kicking case.

Would her successor act likewise and account for not pursuing the head-kicking act?

No school can afford not to give all who witnessed an alleged violent incident a fair account. Hushing up would corrode the city's moral fibre.

Pierce Lam, Central

Here’s the original report.  As you will see, the father of the injured boy seems considerably more reasonable and rational than Pierce Lam, though you do have to wonder whether Jim Hackett really said that “the boy did not do anything wrong”. 

No case for soccer boy over kick to head

Cheung Chi-fai chi |South China Morning Post | Tuesday 17 April 2012

Police will not prosecute a 10-year-old boy arrested on suspicion of kicking a 12-year-old in the head during a soccer match last month.

The incident, which angered parents and the coaches of both the teams involved, was filmed by a spectator and uploaded to the YouTube website, where it was seen by thousands of people before being removed.  The boy's parents have been informed of the decision. The family of the victim will meet Justice Department representatives tomorrow to discuss the case.

'After seeking legal advice, the arrested person has been unconditionally released,' a police spokesman said yesterday. The force would not say what advice it had sought.  The boy was arrested and released on bail last month. He was asked to report to the police yesterday.

The injured boy plays for a Kitchee Escola team. He was kicked in the head during an under-12s Hong Kong Development League match against the English Schools Foundation Lions at King George V School in Ho Man Tin.

Philip Poon Hung-wai, the father of the injured boy, said the outcome was not a surprise. 'I feel a little bit disappointed, though I had never wanted police to prosecute the boy. There must be a reason why the police released the boy unconditionally,' he said.

Poon fears the incident will send a message to children that violence will be tolerated. But since his son has fully recovered, he is not prepared to pursue the case further on his own.  He hopes to meet the parents of the 10-year-old boy, and even organise a friendly soccer match for the boys, in the hope of reconciliation

Jim Hackett, head coach of ESF's soccer programme, would not comment on the possibility of reconciliation, saying he believed the 10-year old boy had gone through quite an ordeal already.  'The boy did not do anything wrong. I still feel sorry about the boy, as thousands of people looked at the incident on You Tube,' he said.

A spokeswoman for the ESF said it was relieved at the boy's release.


Conservative Tories

I have read this several times, but I still don’t understand.  Aren’t all leading Conservative politicians in the UK also Tories?

Seeking the Right Way to Win: Why Conservatives on Both Sides of the Atlantic Are in Crisis

By ANDREW GIMSON  |  Time Magazine | Monday, Apr. 16, 2012

Conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic are in crisis. To British eyes, the race for the Republican nomination looks like a disaster, with no consensus emerging about what a modern Republican party can offer. But U.K. Conservatives do not appear to have any solution to the ideological morass of their American cousins.

A cursory glance might lead you to another conclusion. That's because British Prime Minister David Cameron is nominally a Tory, and so is the country's other major Conservative political figure, London Mayor Boris Johnson.

Wikipedia has this to say:

Tory - Current Usage

In Britain after 1832 the Tory Party was replaced by the Conservative Party, and "Tory" has become shorthand for a member of the Conservative Party or for the party in general. Many Conservatives still call themselves "Tory" to differentiate themselves from opponents, and the term is common in the media.

Boris Johnson?  All very well as London mayor (Boris or Ken – what a choice) but does anyone really seriously believe that he could become prime minister?  Being tipped as a future party leader is pretty much a guarantee that it won’t happen.