HK police under unfair pressure
Clashes more violent than in 2014: ex-security head
The Hong Kong police are bearing unprecedented pressure as violent protests in the city continue and the opposition forces denounce them by hyping gang attacks in Yuen Long, said a member of the Legislative Council (Legco) of Hong Kong and a former secretary for security.
Violent protests have spread across the city after the introduction of an extradition bill that would have allowed some criminal suspects to be taken from Hong Kong to the Chinese mainland for trial.
During an exclusive interview with the Global Times, Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, the first woman to be appointed secretary for security to head the disciplinary service and now chairperson of the New People’s Party, said that for more than a month, the Hong Kong police have borne enormous pressure and were treated unfairly.
Ip asserted that since July 1 when protesters stormed Legco, the demonstrations by opposition forces have violated the law.
“Legco represents the power of the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. The protesters scrapped the Basic Law and covered the Hong Kong emblem with a British colonial flag, which is a challenge to the ‘one country, two systems’ and China’s sovereignty,” she said.
The rioters “just tested the water” by besieging the liaison office of the central government and defacing the national emblem on Sunday evening, Ip noted.
The former secretary of security said she had thought that after Legco, the next target of the protesters would be the liaison office, but they dare not go to the garrison of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Hong Kong.
The rioters’ action has worried Hong Kong residents, Ip said, noting the central government has been “restrained” by not mobilizing the PLA on Hong Kong and leaving the onus largely with the Hong Kong police force.
“The police force of Hong Kong, with only 30,000 personnel, is limited. Only a few have received anti-riot training,” Ip told the Global Times.
“The ongoing clashes are much longer and more violent than what we experienced during the Occupy Central movement in 2014, and the Hong Kong police have never faced such a situation,” according to Ip.
Some of the rioters were well organized and intended on sabotage, Ip said, noting that they planned routes and provided weapons such as umbrellas and bricks.
Ip also refuted criticism of police for firing tear gas at protesters. Tear gas avoids physical confrontation and is used worldwide, Ip noted.
“The police decide what to use according to the situation, such as what protesters use and the number of protesters. The warning flags used by the police are civilized means. But in the US, the police can fire shots at will,” Ip said.
The Hong Kong police force has been treated unfairly despite their efforts, partly because of some of the local media’s partiality toward the protesters, she insisted.
After the personal details of some Hong Kong police officers were leaked online, their children were bullied, according to a news report on the Singapore-based CNA news website.
It said their wives worried that food deliveries could be poisoned.