Following are the opening remarks by the Chief Superintendent of Police Public Relations Branch, Mr Hui Chun-tak, at the press conference today (October 26).
Firstly, I would like to talk about the violent incidents that took place at a public meeting in Tsim Sha Tsui last night. Police express serious concern over the incidents and condemn such violent behavior. During the incidents, two news reporters and two cameramen were assaulted. These cases have been classified as ．assault occasioning actual bodily harm・, ．criminal damage・ and ．common assault・ and are now being investigated by the Regional Crime Unit of Kowloon West Region.
Even if people hold different views, or have discontent, they should not resort to violence. Police will neither tolerate nor condone any violent acts. Police will take enforcement actions impartially and decisively regardless of the background or profession of any persons involved.
I would like to point out that when the assault took place, the situation was very chaotic. Police had taken prompt actions to control the situation and escorted the news reporters and cameramen from the scene for seeking medical treatment and follow-up enquiries. The Regional Crime Unit of Kowloon West Region is gathering evidence from different sources. I appeal to the public, if you have witnessed the case or have any relevant information, please contact Police at once.
In handling public meetings, the duties of Police are to maintain order, safeguard public safety and public order. Whilst I understand the important duties of reporters, I would like to take this opportunity to remind all members of the media to take heed of your personal safety, especially when there was a big crowd and emotion were running high which may result in irrational or even violent behavior.
In the vicinity of the public meeting held last night in Tsim Sha Tsui, there were also physical confrontations in which a 60-year-old man and a 43-year-old woman were arrested for ．wounding・ and ．common assault・ respectively. Police appeal to organizers of public meetings and public activities, to employ sufficient marshals to maintain order and avoid conflicts as verbal disputes and physical confrontations may arise amongst people with different views. If necessary, they shall immediately seek Police assistance at scene as soon as possible.
Yesterday, there were still confrontations of various scales amongst people holding strong and opposite views. These confrontations took place in the illegally occupied areas in Mong Kok, and other places such as Tsim Sha Tsui and Tseung Kwan O. In all, Police arrested 11 persons, eight men and three women, aged between 17 and 60 yesterday, for ．common assault・, ．wounding・, ．criminal damage・, ．fighting in the public place・, ．assaulting police officer・, ．resisting arrest・, and ．obstructing police officer in the execution of duties・, etc.
I wish to point out that as there are people holding different views in the illegally occupied areas and in other public meetings, verbal disputes and physical scuffles are taking place almost everyday. Police have concern over this situation which seems to be deteriorating. A minor conflict among a large crowd can escalate to a large scale confrontation which may result in stampede and casualties. I appeal to all to express their views in a peaceful and rational manner and should not, in any event, resort to violence.
Police are very concerned about the growing tendency of people not abiding by the laws, which is gradually eroding the rule of law, which is the cornerstone of Hong Kong and the core value of Hong Kong people. Especially when there is a large congregation of crowd, the tendency to flout the law is increasing. I believe that the general public will not accept these illegal acts, no matter what the reasons or excuses may be. Under any circumstances, people should not express their discontent or demands unlawfully which will erode the rule of law in Hong Kong.
Four weeks have passed since the roads in Mong Kok have been illegally occupied. Protestors have used pallets, mills barriers, metal chains, plastic straps to build large obstacles. The risk of endangering public safety is ever increasing. We notice that at the junction of Nathan Road and Dundas Street, there is a large barricade covering an area of five meters times 15 meters. Radical protestors have put umbrella ribs among the barricades which are protruding outward. If anyone goes near, or if there is any commotion, people can get hurt easily. In addition, on Nathan Road near Shan Tung Street, protestors have used pallets to build a 3-meter high obstacle and reinforced it with long nails. As some pallets are already broken, and there are sharp edges, it will be very dangerous when the obstacles collapse.
In such a high risk area as Mong Kok, large scale confrontation can be sparked off at any moment. If these obstacles collapse during confrontations, there may be multiple casualties. In addition, these obstacles will pose great hindrance in saving lives if the emergency service vehicles have to reach the affected areas. Police negotiators and officers from the Fire Services Department have attended the locations to persuade people at scene to remove the obstacles. I urge all illegal occupiers in the areas to take heed and remove these obstacles as soon as possible, and not to jeopardize public safety.
I also note that there are media reports that protestors illegally occupying the roads are planning to move protestors around various occupied areas to prolong their illegal occupation. Some even claimed that the occupation should last until next year. The development of the situation is of much concern. If the illegal occupations and road blockage are further prolonged, the normal lives and livelihoods of the general public will be seriously affected and resentment will be further built up in the society. I urge the protestors illegally occupying the roads, for the sake of the interests of the general public, to desist and leave as soon as possible, so that public order can be restored and people・s normal lives can resume.
I stress that Police will not tolerate any acts of violence. I can say that the society will not accept any person using violent behavior to express their views as such will jeopardize public order and endanger public safety.
Police will closely monitor the development and will take actions commensurate with the situation. I stress that Police will continue to execute our duties impartially and professionally.
Ends/Sunday, October 26, 2014
Issued at HKT 19:16