Justice for money

Justice for money

Students are angry at the light sentence of a rich drink-driving teen

Clinton Tong Tsun-tak should easily have earned himself some jail time.

The 18-year-old was charged last summer with a total of five offences in connection with a car crash involving a taxi.

The charges included driving without a licence, drink-driving and reckless endangering.

Yet the son of Carl Tong Ka-wing, the vice-chairman of eSun Holdings and a non-executive director of Crocodile Garments, got away with a slap on the wrist.

He was ordered to perform 150 hours of community service, fined HK$12,000, and disqualified from driving for a year.

The Tong family also paid HK$288,000 in compensation to the taxi driver who was injured in the crash.

The teen's defence lawyer insisted Tong was a good student, actively involved in volunteer work, and suffered from hyperactivity.

A former lawmaker and a jurist wrote character references for him.

Yet the light sentence raised many eyebrows about the alleged double standards of a justice system that may go easy on the rich and famous.

Several students explain their views to Young Post.

Alex Tong, a 16-year-old Form Four student

"Some people say the public is picking on him because he is rich. It is not a sin to be rich, but using money and power to undermine justice is. Our city is becoming more and more like the mainland, where cash rules, not the law. So what if he's a straight-A student? Does that give him the right to drink and drive and hurt others?"

Alan Wong, 17, Form Six student

"I can't believe he did not get any jail time. It was a ridiculous verdict that shows the justice system favours the rich and powerful. I don't think Clinton has learned his lesson. If you commit a crime and are not properly punished, there is a high chance that you will commit it again."

Grace Lee, 16, a Year 12 student

"The case shows that certain people receive privileges just because they're rich. The law should treat everyone equally, no matter how rich or poor they are.

"A rich person committing a crime shouldn't be given a lighter sentence than a poor person committing the same crime."

Andy Liu Chun-ho, 18, Form Six student

"He's still young and this was his first offence, so the sentence was reasonable. But using a letter written by influential people in his defence was a mistake. It could make people think he got off so easily because of his father's connections."

Wong Tin-yau, Form Four student

"Drink-driving is a serious offence so he should definitely be in prison. He says he's sorry, but I don't think he really is. He would never have driven the car in the first place if he cared about the safety of others.

"His lawyer used his hyperactivity as a defence, but I think that's ridiculous. If that was a good excuse, many prisoners who are doing time shouldn't have been sentenced to prison."

Kevin Kung, 20

"He was drink-driving without a licence, which is a serious offence. Although he has respectable people saying he's not responsible, that doesn't mean he should get away so easily."

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