Following the disqualification of four pan-democratic legislators and the frequent prosecution of former pan-democratic legislators, law enforcement agencies have recently frequently prosecuted many people related to politics and protests, including District Council members, online radio host, pro-movement store owners, student reporters, and Granny Wong in support of the protests, just to name a few known cases. Almost every day, there are politically-related arrests, coupled with the accusation by a Mainland legal scholar that the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China (HK Alliance) has violated the National Security Law, and the pro-Beijing camp's personal attack on the High Court judge who handed down an unfavourable sentence to the police force in the case of not displaying ID numbers, the political atmosphere in Hong Kong has rapidly deteriorated.
Since the street protests have been quiet for a long time, the new wave of political arrests and prosecutions can be broadly divided into two categories of charges: one involves publishing statements, such as the posting of "Reclaim Hong Kong, Revolution of the Times" or similar slogans, that incite secession or subversion; the other involves raising funds, such as online crowdfunding to support the protests, which is accused as money laundering and fraud. Whether or not there is real evidence and whether or not the prosecution has a reasonable chance of success is not important to law enforcement officers at this stage, as long as it can have an impact and deterrent effect, it is worthwhile to conduct a high-profile prosecution, thereby creating a situation where everyone feels the danger and self-censors.
In the past, police officers were afraid of judicial challenges over possible indiscriminate arrests and charges. If the victims succeeded in their judicial review, the court handed down a ruling unfavourable to the police and the government had to comply. But now with Beijing's support, the pro-Chinese media do not bother to respect judges at all -- whenever a judge rules in favour of a protester or against the police, he or she is labeled as a "yellow ribbon" judge. The pro-Beijing media then starts to criticise the sentence for conniving "black violence", questioning the judge's political motives, and then the Department of Justice appeals. If the appeal is unlikely to be successful, then NPCSC would be called in to force the court to comply with the resolution.
Take the case of this past Thursday when High Court judge Anderson Chow handed down a fair ruling that suggests the police's refusal to display ID numbers when on duty is against the Bill of Rights. His verdict is a reasonable balance between protecting the privacy of police officers and allowing victims of police abuse to file complaints against them, that is, the police officers do not have to display their name but a unique number or mark so that an independent investigation can be launched after the complainant filed a report, so as to prevent officers from using excessive force to torture suspects. This ruling, which cited a large number of international cases, is the most basic international human rights requirement. After the verdict was issued, however, the pro-Beijing camp completely disrespected the verdict and launched a series of smear campaigns against the judges, and police organisations openly demanded that the government appeal the verdict.
Zhang Xiaoming, deputy director of the Hong Kong and Macao Office of the State Council (HKMAO), and Feng Wei, former deputy director of the HKMAO, have made some interesting comments about the current situation. Zhang said that the removal of the four legislators is to establish political rules for Hong Kong, and quoted Henry Litton, a former judge who has been a mouthpiece for Beijing repeatedly in recent years, as saying that Hong Kong needs judicial reform. As for Feng Wei, he even used the analogy of the Kuomintang government's transition from military rule to political tutelage and then to constitutional rule, saying that Hong Kong is now at the stage of "political tutelage" and it may take eight to ten years to return to constitutional rule, because in the early days of the handover, the central government talked less about "one country" and more about "two systems" for the sake of stability, which led to a lot of resistance to "one country" in Hong Kong and led to today's need for "reorganisation and rectification".