Following are the opening remarks by the Chief Superintendent of Police Public Relations Branch, Mr Hui Chun-tak, at the press conference today (October 18).
Firstly, I will talk about what happened in Mong Kok last night. After Police had conducted an operation to clear the obstacles in Mong Kok in the morning yesterday, part of the traffic resumed, including a section of Argyle Street between Fa Yuen Street and Shanghai Street, a section of northbound Nathan Road between Waterloo Road and Mong Kok Road. A total of 59 bus routes once resumed. After the operation, protesters still illegally occupied and gathered at the three traffic lanes at a section of the southbound Nathan Road between Argyle Street and Nelson Street. They already had enough space to express their views.
Regrettably, there were radical protesters urging people to go to Mong Kok to occupy the roads. Again, their acts were organised. They chanted slogans, repeatedly charged Police cordons, snatched mills barriers, and finally occupied northbound Nathan Road and other roads. During the commotion, some police officers were injured by being pushed onto the ground. These protesters were very emotional who scolded the officers and provoked others to charge Police cordons. Some of them attacked our officers with umbrellas, pushed against Police with their own bodies and placed the mills barriers onto the roads causing obstructions and chaos. Some radical protesters even threw the mills barriers to the Police cordon to stop the Police from advancing.
Concerning the illegal assemblies in Mong Kok last night and this morning, the illegal occupation of roads and charging of Police cordons were violent and non-peaceful. These acts seriously affected the public order and public safety. Police strongly condemn these acts.
Police had issued a number of warnings, including announcements at scene and the display of warning banners but all in vain. Police had to use minimum force, including pepper spray and batons, to stop these violent and illegal acts. However, the protesters still continued to charge our officers. Police had to take resolute actions and make arrests.
Up till now, Police arrested 33 persons in Mong Kok and Central, including 30 males and 3 females, aged between 20 and 66, involving in ．common assault・, ．criminal damage・, ．disorderly conduct in a public place・, ．resisting arrest・, ．obstructing Police in execution of duty・ and ．possession of offensive weapons・, etc.
In addition, up till now, another 18 police officers were injured in this major commotion. Some were injured by umbrellas while some got injuries on their head, limbs and shoulder as well as dislocation of elbow joint.
There are still a lot of people illegally occupying different areas in Mong Kok (1) the section of southbound and northbound Nathan Road between Argyle Street and Dundas Street, (2) the section of westbound Argyle Street between Shanghai Street and Nathan Road. This has seriously affected the traffic and passageway for emergency vehicles. I appeal to those illegal occupiers to leave soonest so that the daily life of the public would not be affected because of the extensive blockage.
In the small hours today, about a hundred protesters illegally gathered on Lung Wo Road. Some radical protesters dashed onto the two lanes of eastbound Lung Wo Road. They used traffic cones to block the road. A 21-year-old male threw a plastic bottle at a police officer and was arrested for ．Assaulting police officer・. The onlookers however surrounded our officers and demanded for the release of the male. District Investigation Team of Central District is now investigating.
Hong Kong is a law-abiding society. The rule of law is the cornerstone of Hong Kong. All people must obey the law and everyone is equal before the law.
Unfortunately, in the past few days, we could see in the TV and newspapers that there were many illegal activities challenging the rule of law. These protesters claimed their acts would be peaceful and non-violent, however, they charged the Police with violent means. They simply ignore the rule of law.
Hong Kong is one of the safest cities in the world. The average crime rate is much lower than most of the democratic countries. This relies on good order of law, Police executing their duties, people obeying the law as well as the cooperation between the people and Police. If, the rule of law and public order are being tarnished, is it what the Hong Kong people want?
The illegal occupations are law-breaking. The organisers claimed using peaceful, non-violent, non-resistant means at the very beginning. I don・t think I need to emphasise what sort of consequences has eventually come up with. If protesters have repeatedly blocked the roads, charged Police, caused obstructions to people going to work and to schools, this has affected the earnings of drivers and shop owners. No matter it is time, economy, and people・s daily life, they are all being seriously affected.
The radical protesters are not occupying the areas peacefully. In fact, they have charged police officers repeatedly. When Police were making arrests, they tried to obstruct Police・s action. Some even resisted the arrests while others tried to get release of the arrested persons by blocking and pushing the police officers. Some radical ones even attempted to snatch away the arrested persons, obstructing our officers to execute duties. All these were far from what they have alleged as peaceful and non-violent acts. Most regrettably, different organisers have urged people to occupy different areas through the Internet and to charge Police. I strongly condemn such acts.
Hong Kong Police Force is a professional law enforcement agency. All along, we have served the public impartially in accordance with the law of Hong Kong.
Our Commissioner made it very clear this morning. In the past three weeks, Police had been highly tolerant in handling the illegal activities of these protesters. I hope these people could calm down and express their views in a peaceful, rational and lawful manner. Unfortunately, they have chosen to carry on with their illegal acts that are even more radical which has hurt Hong Kong as a whole.
These illegal acts are now damaging the integrity of the rule of law. If Police encounter difficulties in carrying out their duties in future, the law and order that Hong Kong people have been proud of would be tarnished seriously.
Lastly, I hope these radical protesters could stop ignoring public order and public safety. Most importantly, do not urge others to take part in illegal activities.
Police will continue to serve the community by working hard in full confidence, with impartial attitude and acting by the law. The efforts made by all the frontline officers working days and nights and holding the fort are fully appreciated.
Ends/Saturday, October 18, 2014
Issued at HKT 19:55