Following is the transcript of remarks (the opening remarks are an English translation) by the Secretary for Security, Mr Lai Tung-kwok, at a media session today (December 1):
Secretary for Security: The unlawful assemblies and occupation activities, which have been going on for more than two months, took a sharp turn for the worse last night.
Over the past weekend, the leaders of the Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKFS) and Scholarism repeatedly made public appeals to protesters to bring their gear to Admiralty to lay siege to government buildings last night. At about 9pm, the student groups urged the protesters to head towards Lung Wo Road and surround the Central Government Offices. In the process, the protesters charged the Police cordon with shields and mills barriers intentionally and systematically. They threw objects, including bottles, helmets and pepper powder, at police officers. The protesters also projected strong flashlights onto police officers and attacked them with fire extinguisher spray. They set up obstacles to block Lung Wo Road, which is a major trunk road on Hong Kong Island. After repeated appeals and warnings, the Police took resolute enforcement actions to disperse the protesters and make arrests. Social order and traffic flow were temporarily restored.
At about 3am the protesters assembled again after an appeal from the student groups to occupy Lung Wo Road. This morning, the Police took another round of enforcement actions to disperse the protesters and restore traffic flow on Lung Wo Road. The obstacles on the footbridge connecting the Admiralty MTR Station and the Central Government Offices were also cleared. During the operation, a number of persons, including 11 police officers, were injured. Nobody would like to see that happen.
Although the leaders of the student groups announced several times before the incident that their actions would be peaceful, rational and non-violent, the latest developments show the opposite. The protesters charged the police cordon with mills barriers and tools, and also threw hard objects at the officers. Batons, bricks and other objects were found on the protesters when they were searched by the Police. The actions went way beyond their proclaimed principles of peace and non-violence. This was an organised and calculated attempt to paralyse the operation of the Government. Such behaviour would not be tolerated by any government and is not something members of the public wish to happen.
I offer the strongest condemnation of the leaders of the HKFS for staging the actions last night, which began as a siege and then turned into violent charging. It was not a peaceful assembly. After the incidents last night, I believe we all realised that the demonstration in Admiralty was on the verge of becoming uncontrollable. I appeal to all protesters to leave immediately and the public should not take part in any such activities.
The Government and the Police have been exercising the utmost restraint and tolerance towards the demonstrations in the past two months. However, time and again, the protesters have charged and provoked police officers, and recently even escalated their actions. The Police will take resolute enforcement actions to resume social order.
Reporter: Would you comment on last night's clearance after the escalation of the action? Do you think that Police were very forceful with protesters? Some people complained that some of the Police were very violent in dealing with female protesters. And you mentioned that the HKFS and Scholarism have said they would have a non-violent movement. Do you think they have gone beyond this? Do you think they have changed their plans? What do you think happened last night?
Secretary for Security: I think what happened last night fully demonstrated that it has far, far away gone beyond what they have declared. The Police, after repeated warnings, have to take resolute actions. They have no choice because it is their duty to restore law and order.
Reporter: Would you comment on last night's clearance in terms of the Police's actions? How did the protesters provoke the Police? What exactly did they do? And in terms of future actions, will the Government try to clear out Admiralty completely?
Secretary for Security: For the future actions, this is a question concerning operational details, I regret that I am not going to reveal pre-maturely. For your first question, those protesters, they systemically charged the Police cordon. I just quoted one or two scenes. They gathered together, put up their so-called defensive materials and then they said five, four, three, two, one and they charged the police cordon. This was systemic with a command. Another example, they took mills barriers and then formed a barricade, and used that to push their line forward. All these fully demonstrated that they were well prepared to block a major road on Hong Kong Island. As you could see from the live broadcast, at that time, traffic towards both sides had been suddenly stopped. It took quite a lot of effort for drivers to drive their vehicles out of this problem area. All these fully demonstrated what they have done.
(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)
Ends/Monday, December 1, 2014
Issued at HKT 17:36