CHINA HK chief Lam backs police force in rare media appearance ahead of planned protests


HK chief Lam backs police force in rare media appearance ahead of planned protests

Global Times

13:25, October 20, 2019

(Photo: Xinhua)

Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor on Saturday backed the city's police force, saying officers are not fighting alone, as anti-government forces are planning more protests for the weekend.

In two rare media appearances, on Saturday morning, since protests broke out in June, Lam said the city's police have used appropriate force based on the needs in handling violent protests and that the HKSAR government fully supports the police officers. She also appealed for confidence in the city to get out of the current impasse soon.

Full support

"We will not let the police force fight alone," she said in the interview with CRHK, noting that various government departments and leaders, including herself, all support the police force.

Even though many have praised the city's police force for its professionalism and restraint in response to violent protesters, who constantly attacked officers both physically and verbally, there are also accusations of the so-called police brutality.

Responding to the accusations, Lam said it was necessary for the police to use appropriate force in their law enforcement work and that accusations against police officers should be based on investigations rather than certain video footage.

When an audience called-in during the program on RTHK and said with a shaking voice that his heart is broken seeing the society torn apart, Lam was also emotional.

"These events have made many people sad and raised doubts, including myself," she said but "we all should have confidence and I hope we could get out of the current difficult situation as soon as possible."

The chief executive added that the decision of Chan Tong Kai to turn himself in, to Taiwan authorities, for his alleged involvement in the murder of his girlfriend on the island, is a relief and hopes it could bring an end to the case.

Chan's case led the HKSAR government to propose a since-withdrawn extradition bill, which triggered the unrest, though protesters have made several other demands, including universal suffrage and probe into alleged police brutality, which some believe to be politically motivated and unrealistic.

More protests

However, even as Lam urged the Hong Kong society to end violence and start rebuilding the city, some continue to plan major protests for the weekend that police say could turn violent.

Hong Kong police on Friday issued a letter of objection to a protest planned for Sunday, citing intelligence that predicts risks of violence and vandalism.

Ho Yun-sing, district commander of Yau Tsim district police, told a press briefing on Friday that police have received intelligence about the possibility of violence stemming from the planned protest, including the use of offensive weapons such as petrol bombs and homemade explosives, thus endangering public security.

He warned that participation in the planned protest would be deemed an "unlawful act."

Organizers have appealed against the police decision on Saturday to a panel, the Appeal Board on Public Meetings and Processions, according to media reports.

However, the HKSAR government is not taking any chances as it announced early closure of public facilities on Sunday in the vicinity of the planned protests.

"All facilities of Kowloon Park, the Hong Kong Cultural Centre, and the Hong Kong Space Museum in Yau Tsim Mong District will be closed at noon tomorrow to ensure the safety of venue users," the HKSAR Leisure and Cultural Services Department said on Saturday.

The planned protests on Sunday followed a relatively calm week. On Friday night, some protesters formed a "human chain" in certain areas but there were no clashes reported. There were also no major protests planned for Saturday, unlike previous weekends - a sign of losing steam for the ill-intentioned political movement.

However, the impact of the violent unrest over the past four months on the city's economy has started to show.

The latest sign of the negative economic impact came as one of the city's oldest and largest trade expo had to make major adjustments to its time and prices due to the unrest.

While the Hong Kong Brands and Products Expo will kick off on December 10 as planned, the length has been cut to 22 days from 24 days and the closing time has been changed to 6 pm instead of 10 pm, an organizer from the Chinese Manufacturers' Association of Hong Kong, said on Friday. The price for tickets was also cut to HK$8 from HK$12.

"Constantly escalating social events in Hong Kong over the past few months have seriously affected public transport network and posed an extremely huge challenge for holding any major outdoor expo," the association said, adding extra security personnel will be added to ensure security.

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