Following are the opening remarks by the Chief Superintendent of Police Public Relations Branch, Mr Hui Chun-tak, at the press conference today (October 14):
First of all, I will talk about the Police operations in Causeway Bay and Admiralty this morning. People illegally occupying the roads have been causing obstructions, traffic chaos and serious impacts on the daily lives of the public. In the past days, Police officers have been urging them to remove the obstacles. Government officials, representatives from District Councils, various industries and schools, and parents, etc, have been explaining to the road occupiers how they are affected. I regret that, the road occupiers have not only turned a deaf ear to their appeals, but also escalated the occupation by reinforcing the obstacles with bamboo poles, wooden planks and cement. These actions will likely cause injuries. Emergency services vehicles cannot gain access. There may be serious harm to life and property in case of fire, or emergency calls from persons seriously sick or injured.
Police condemn these reckless and extremely irresponsible acts. Police have emphasized on various occasions that to safeguard public safety, maintain public order, and prevent confrontation and injury, Police will remove the obstacles.
Therefore, Police took actions in Causeway Bay, removing obstacles on Yee Wo Street and Hennessey Road. In Admiralty, obstacles on Queensway and the tramways were all removed. These obstacles included dangerous articles such as bamboo poles, planks with nails and concrete blocks.
The operations today were smooth. Both Hennessey Road and Queensway are now re-opened. If anyone tries to replace or reinforce the obstacles again, Police will not tolerate and will take decisive enforcement action to stop such illegal acts. Police will deploy additional officers to patrol the area.
Police operation to remove obstacles will continue. We have stressed all along the occupied roads in Mong Kok is a high risk area. There are frequent confrontations. Therefore, Police need to remove large obstacles on the roads in Mong Kok, so that the traffic can be partially resumed. I urge people illegally occupying the roads to comply with Police advice, do not obstruct or even confront our officers. Otherwise, they will be removed. We will not eliminate the possibility to take arrest action when necessary. Police will continue to go about our duties impartially.
Police actions of removing the obstacles are completely open and above board. We have advised the public through our press conferences. Before Police taking action, we will make announcement and issue warning at scene. I stress, Police are not conducting protestor clearance operation at this time. If there is, Police will make announcement beforehand, so that the illegal road occupiers can have time to leave.
Concerning the confrontation taking place in Queensway yesterday, I will give more details. At about 1.30pm, large numbers of protestors from different organizations including taxi and lorry drivers, went to Queensway to air their grievances to people illegally occupying the roads. When they attempted to remove the obstacles, they had scuffles with the illegal road occupiers and Police officers. Police understand their aspiration because of the extended road occupation. I urge them to remain calm and restrained to avoid confrontation or violence. In the operation, Police arrested 23 males aged between 16 to 54. Thirteen were arrested for disorder in public place; two for possession of offensive weapons; four for common assault; one for obstructing Police officers and three for theft.
We understand that, people objecting the illegal occupation have the lawful right to use the roads, and the road obstruction are illegal and unreasonable. However, if they remove the obstacles themselves, there may be large scale of confrontation with the illegal road occupiers. Police do not want to see anyone at scene including the protestors, reporters, general public and Police officers get injured. Police have the responsibility to protect personal safety and maintain public order.
The priority of our officers is to separate people of various parties to prevent confrontation and deterioration of the situation. Maintaining the public order at scene requires a lot of our manpower. I hope people holding different views to remain restrained, so that Police can resume the normal traffic, and reduce inconvenience and grievances of the general public. Police will continue our actions to remove the obstacles. We open the roads and resume the normal traffic. I appeal to the illegal road occupiers, people in various industries and the general public affected, to use peaceful and lawful means when expressing their views. Police need time and space to remove the obstacles. We do not want to deploy our resources on separating people holding different views and handling confrontation.
Starting yesterday, Police had taken actions at various locations including Central, Causeway Bay and Admiralty to remove obstacles and resume normal traffic. These actions will continue especially at high risk locations or areas of potential confrontation. When Police remove the obstacles, we may need to take the protestors to another location so as to re-open the roads.
In the past few days, I have stressed, the irresponsible acts of the illegal road occupiers have seriously affected people going to work and school, and caused great annoyance. In the press conference yesterday, I pointed out that, blockage of the east-west thoroughfare on Hong Kong Island overloaded the alternate roads at the mid-levels. Police take actions to remove obstacles on Queensway and Yee Wo Street with the purpose of resuming the east-west tram route and other public transport service. This is not a protestor clearance operation.
Tomorrow, the Legislative Council will have council meeting. I urge the protestors to leave a safe passage, so that the Legislative councilors and government officials can enter the Council. I note that, Government vehicles are blocked at Tim Wa Avenue. This affects the normal operations of the Government and service for the public, and causes great inconvenience to citizens requiring Government services. I urge, illegal road occupiers not to obstruct vehicles entering the Centre Government Office at Tim Wa Avenue.
I emphasise, Police will continue to discharge our duties impartially and professionally. I also urge people illegally occupying the roads can cater for the interests of Hong Kong citizens, be responsible, and to remove the obstacles as soon as possible. I also urge the general public and the relevant industries to remain restrained, so that Police can continue our work. At this critical moment, Police will remain united, and be committed to working diligently for the benefits of the Hong Kong citizens.
Ends/Tuesday, October 14, 2014
Issued at HKT 19:13