The Chinese national flags and flags of the Hong Kong SAR flutter in Hong Kong. [Photo/Xinhua]

That the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government has canceled the annual National Day fireworks show on Oct 1 and Hong Kong Jockey Club called off Wednesday’s Happy Valley race, both for security reasons, speaks volumes of the damage the violent demonstrations have caused to the city.

Under the garb of democracy, signified by the masks they’ve worn to hide their identity, the insurrectionists have attacked police officers and stations, and tried to break into the Legislative Council building. It is absurd indeed that, despite claiming to fight for “democracy” and “righteousness”, they are afraid of revealing their true identity.

On Saturday, a middle-aged Hong Kong resident pulled the mask off a radical’s face when the latter was showering a group of people singing China’s national anthem with invectives. Instead of facing up to the situation, the radical punched the middle-aged man, cutting open his left brow ridge, covered his face with his arm and fled the scene.

Immediately after being uploaded online, the video, recorded by a bystander, drew wide attention. And the violent protester was, ironically, identified as a 25-year-old civil servant working for Hong Kong customs, giving rise to a heated debate on whether the SAR should have a special law banning protesters from covering their faces with masks.

Masks seem to have put the demonstrators above the law, simply because they cannot be identified. Which has seriously compromised the rule of law in Hong Kong.

So it is good to hear Hong Kong Secretary of Justice Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah saying the city’s legislators are studying the feasibility of making such a law — which has been on their agenda for three years since the Mong Kok riots took place.

In many countries and regions, such a law plays an important role in demarcating the legal and moral boundaries of demonstrators.

There are enough reasons to believe such a law would be backed by public opinion, because it is already a consensus among the sane elements in the city that the rule of law must be safeguarded by putting an end to the violence in the city.

Since too many radical protesters have been released on bail within hours of being detained under the current Hong Kong law, it is necessary and urgent to address the issue using legal means to remove their masks.

Tough times call for tough measures.