Opening remarks by Police Senior Superintendent at press conference

     Following are the opening remarks by the Senior Superintendent of Police Public Relations Branch, Mr Kong Man-keung, at the press conference today (October 27).

     Police have all along reiterated the importance for protesters to remain peaceful and abide by the laws when they express their views and discontentment regardless of their stance. No one should resort to violence under whatever circumstances. Police will neither tolerate nor condone any violent acts, and will take enforcement actions impartially and decisively regardless of the background or profession of any person involved.

     Police are very concerned about the violent incident in Tsim Sha Tsui last Saturday and have strongly condemned the violent act. We have arrested a 61-year old man surnamed So yesterday for the offences of .Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm・, .Criminal Damage・ and .Common Assault・. The case is currently investigated by the Regional Crime Unit of Kowloon West Region and we do not rule out the possibility of further arrest. I appeal to those who have witnessed the incident to come forward and to provide information, which might assist Police investigation.

     I need to point out that, during the course of a public event, particularly when a large crowd has gathered and when emotions are running high, it is not uncommon to see radical behaviours, and troublemakers inciting others with a view to creating chaos. The primary duty of Police is to maintain law and order and to ensure public safety. If there are people violating the laws, Police will take enforcement actions impartially. I appeal to members of the public to respect the rights of other members of the society in expressing their views lawfully and peacefully, and should refrain from any acts of provocation or disruption of public order.

     In the afternoon on  October 25, Police officers were deployed to handle a case of dispute, which occurred outside MTR Hang Hau Station, Tseung Kwan O. In the course of handling the incident, a 19-year old man assaulted two Police officers and put up resistance when our officers tried to arrest him. The man was eventually subdued and was arrested for .Assaulting a Police Officer・, .Resisting Arrest・ and .Obstructing a Police Officer in Due Execution of Duty・. In addition, three men, aged 17 to 26, were also arrested for .Obstructing a Police Officer in Due Execution of Duty・ at scene.

     As we pointed out yesterday, the tendency of people not abiding by the laws has been growing as the illegal occupation of roads continues. We are very concerned of this situation of gradual erosion of the rule of law which is the core value of Hong Kong society.

     In Admiralty, we note that some of the protesters illegally occupying the roads have damaged the green space along Harcourt Road allegedly for cultivation. The act itself was a type of vandalism and deprived other members of the public of their rights to use the public space. Similarly, some people expressed their views through covering traffic lights with different patterns. Their selfish and illegal acts not only interfered with the traffic lights, but may also result in traffic accidents leading to serious consequences. Police respect citizens・ rights to express their views but we reiterate that this must be done in a lawful manner.

     Meanwhile, a number of incidents of wounding and assaulting police officers took place the day before arising from opposing views and discontentment at various locations. In the early morning on October 26 at Tai Kok Tsui, a man chopped a passer-by after asking if he was a Police officer. In another incident, our officers were assaulted when they responded to an incident in Tsuen Wan.

     I want to point out that there is a tendency for some people to disregard others・ rights or interests and ignore the rule of law. There are radical protesters and troublemakers mixing in the illegal assembly who put up irresponsible excuses to justify their illegal acts, and even try to rationalise their illegal behaviour through criticising the Police. I do believe that most of the Hong Kong citizens are law-abiding and there are no valid reasons or excuses to go above the laws of Hong Kong. We cannot tolerate the expression of views or grievances through illegal means. Such behaviours are not acceptable in our society.

     It has almost been one month since the roads in Mong Kok have been illegally occupied and blocked. The three-metre high obstacles built by protesters with pallets carries the risk of collapse and fire and the situation is worrying. Yesterday afternoon, Police negotiators and officers from the Fire Services Department tried to persuade protesters at scene to remove the obstacles. Regrettably, the illegal road occupiers have refused to do so.

     Since the illegal blockage of Nathan Road by protesters with obstacles, I note that quite a number of pedestrians cross the road by climbing over the half-metre high central dividers and this is in fact very dangerous. Last evening, a pedestrian fell off the central divider and injured his head when climbing over the central divider trying to cross the road. The responding ambulance was blocked by the obstacles and was unable to access the scene directly. Ambulancemen had to bring the stretcher into the illegally occupied area on foot before they could transport the injured pedestrian to hospital for treatment. The act of illegal occupation of roads is selfish and irresponsible, as it has significantly increased the risk to the safety of nearby citizens and protesters as well.

     The hearing on the Injunction Order at the Court of First Instance regarding the illegal occupation of roads in Mong Kok and blockage of access at CITIC Tower is still on-going. The Interim Injunction Order is still in force for the time being. I note that some protesters stationed near the CITIC Tower have removed part of the obstacles but another group of illegal occupiers have mounted another even larger obstacles of three-metre high with mills barriers. The obstacles have blocked nearby roads and access to the building. The act of blockage is selfish and has ignored the safety and legal rights of other citizens.

     As pointed out in the ruling of the Court of First Instance, every person is entitled in law to make reasonable use of roads. The obstacles in Mong Kok have obstructed major roads in Kowloon, and in conjunction with the occupation of other major roads on Hong Kong Island , has resulted in substantial loss of drivers・ income. The barriers and other obstructions in the area concerned have the obvious effect of obstructing emergency vehicles from entering the occupied areas and this creates risks to public safety. The Court holds the view that a balancing exercise has to be carried out to balance on the one hand the general public・s rights to use the roads and on the other those who are exercising their right to demonstrate or assemble on the roads. No one is entitled to monopolise the use of roads and the demonstration in question based on civil disobedience has taken place for so long which has the real risk of turning into civil disorder.

     I sincerely hope that the protesters illegally occupying the roads can respect the Court orders and the rule of law. They should remove the obstacles and cease occupying the roads. Police will deploy appropriate manpower to protect personal safety and to prevent crime and offences from happening.

     Lastly, I urge protesters who are illegally occupying the road not to disregard law and order and public safety. The prolonged illegal occupations of roads without an end in sight has seriously affected the daily lives and livelihoods of the general public and eroded the rule of law in Hong Kong. For the greater interests or benefits of the general public, I appeal to all illegal occupiers to leave the roads and remove the obstacles as soon as possible.

     Police will continue to execute our duties impartially and in accordance with the law. We will continue to uphold law and order and serve the public faithfully.

Ends/Monday, October 27, 2014
Issued at HKT 19:35