Following are the opening remarks by the Chief Superintendent of Police Public Relations Branch, Mr Hui Chun-tak, at the press conference today (October 23).
I would like to focus on the situation in Mong Kok today.
The High Court has granted an Injunction Order against the persons unlawfully occupying the roads in Mong Kok, restraining them from causing obstruction to traffic and interfering with the dismantling or the removing of road barriers.
Yesterday, the plaintiffs and the bailiff went to Mong Kok and executed the Injunction Order but was unsuccessful. The protesters refused to leave, ignored the Order and continued to occupy the areas illegally with large obstacles. During this, some members of the public went to assist in removing the obstacles, and had confrontations with the protesters. As a result, Police had to intervene to maintain public order.
As the Secretary for Justice stated this morning, intended defendant of the Injunction Orders shall comply with the Orders and shall not disobey them. People of Hong Kong shall respect the court¡¦s decisions and Orders. Otherwise, there will be far reaching repercussions on the rule of law in Hong Kong in the long run.
The rule of law is the cornerstone of Hong Kong and we do not want to see it undermined when people are trying to express their aspirations.
Over the past few days, Police have repeatedly said that the illegally occupied areas in Mong Kok is a high risk area. Situation there is critical. Confrontations and criminal offences have taken place from time to time. There is an escalating trend to serious public disorder and is on the verge of riot. There are radical protesters and trouble makers mixing in the illegal assembly. Large scale confrontation would be sparked off in any moment. In fact, since the occupation of roads, confrontations and criminal offences occurred every day.
Since yesterday noon time, there have been 14 cases reported in the occupied areas in Mong Kok. These cases include common assault, indecent assault, possession of offensive weapon, disorderly conduct in public place, attempted arson, and objects dropped from buildings. Police have arrested 10 men and one woman, aged between 32 and 82.
I want to highlight two cases. One is an attempted arson case that occurred at the junction of Nathan Road and Argyle Street at around 7pm yesterday in which a drunken man was arrested. At that time, he attempted to set fire with a bottle of flammable fluid. He was subsequently subdued and arrested.
The second one is an object dropped from buildings case that took place at about 8pm on Nathan Road yesterday. A total of five plastic bags containing paints and faeces were dropped from a building onto the illegally assembly areas and spilled onto a number of persons on the ground, including a young boy wearing school uniform. I stress that attempted arson and dropping objects from building are very serious acts of crime and can result in multiple casualties. Members of the public should not copy these acts of crime. Police will not tolerate any acts of violence and will take resolute arrest actions.
I must repeat that, it is extremely irresponsible to bring any child to the high risk occupied areas in Mong Kok as this will expose them to unnecessary harm. Parents should not bring their children to the illegally occupied area and should advise others not to do so.
It is obvious to everyone that the daily lives of the general public have been seriously affected by the illegal occupation of roads and the resultant traffic chaos. Noise nuisances have further brought sleepless nights to the neighbourhood. These have aroused grievances in the local community.
As pointed out in the rulings of the Court of First Instance, every member of the public has the lawful and reasonable right to the use of roads. Protesters illegally occupying the roads have blocked the major thoroughfares of Kowloon, causing serious traffic congestions. As the major roads in Hong Kong Island are also blocked, the income of drivers in the transportation industry has been greatly reduced. Blocking roads with obstacles also hinder the movements of emergency vehicles, which may be hazardous to the public.
The court opined that a balance need to be struck between the protesters' right of assembly and the general public's rights to use the roads. No one can possibly claim a monopoly of using the roads in total disregard of the interests of his fellow citizens, no matter how honorable or noble his cause may be. The occupation of roads has lasted for a prolonged period of time and its large scale has affected so many people, which has the real risk of turning into social disorder.
Moreover, I note that some protesters have used plastic straps, nails and pallets to reinforce their barricades. I also see people use plastic tapes and angle irons to tie mills barriers together. These acts seriously affect emergency services and greatly increase the threats posed to the protesters themselves and the neighbourhood. These acts are very selfish indeed.
Mong Kok remains a high risk area. I appeal to the public not to go to the affected areas, especially youngsters and students. You have to take care of your personal safety, avoid unnecessary harm. I also remind protesters illegally occupying the roads to remain calm and restrained, and to leave the areas peacefully and orderly, cease the nuisances caused to the general public.
Lastly, I stress again that Police will not tolerate any violent acts and will take resolute enforcement actions.
Ends/Thursday, October 23, 2014
Issued at HKT 19:28