Opening remarks by Police Chief Superintendent at press conference

     Following are the opening remarks by the Chief Superintendent of Police Public Relations Branch, Mr Hui Chun-tak, at the press conference today (December 13).

     The illegal road occupations have lasted for more than two months.  The daily lives and livelihoods of the general public have been seriously disrupted.  I hope the illegal road occupiers can respect the rule of law and stop the illegal road occupation at once so that public order can be restored.

     As a professional law enforcement agency, Police are duty bound to preserve public peace and protect public safety and public order.  On December 11, Police reopened the blocked roads after removing the obstacles in Admiralty and Central.

     I need to point out that the assembly within the occupied area in Causeway Bay is unlawful.  There were previous outbreaks of confrontations and the illegal occupation there still carries certain risks.  The illegal blockage of a section of Yee Wo Street has created serious traffic congestion around Causeway Bay and the nearby shop operators have also been extensively affected.  Therefore, Police have to reopen the road so that normal traffic flow can be resumed.

     On the coming Monday morning (December 15), Police will exercise legal powers conferred by the law to remove the obstacles in the illegally occupied area on Yee Wo Street, Causeway Bay so as to reopen that section of road.  To enhance the transparency of Police operation, we will arrange an on-site media briefing on the forthcoming Police action at around 9.30am that morning.  I hope that the illegal road occupiers thereat can cooperate with Police so as to avoid unnecessary confrontation.  During the operation, Police will need to set up an operational cordoned area and arrange temporary traffic diversion.  We hope that members of the public will follow the instructions of Police officers at scene.  Police will facilitate the access of those who work or live at the affected section of road.  I appeal to members of the public to avoid going to the illegally occupied area and its vicinity in Causeway Bay on coming Monday morning.

     Police Negotiators have been deployed to urge those who are still in the illegally occupied area in Causeway Bay to leave.  I now urge the illegal road occupiers to remove the obstacles, take away their personal belongings and leave the occupied area in a peaceful and orderly manner soonest.  During the operation on Monday, there will not be much time for them to pack their personal belongings.  Meanwhile, members of the public should avoid gathering or lingering in the illegally occupied area.  They should stay away from radicals and troublemakers and not be incited to commit any illegal acts.

     If the illegal road occupiers refuse to leave, Police will take actions to disperse them and may effect arrest against those who attempt to obstruct Police in the execution of duty.  If protestors at scene do not resort to resistance or violent acts, Police will not need to use any force.  We do not want to see anyone getting injured.  I urge protestors not to obstruct Police officers in the execution of duties, or put up any forms of resistance or attempt to violently charge at Police.  I reiterate that Police will not tolerate any violent acts and will take resolute actions against anyone resorting to violence.  I hope the illegal occupiers can take heed of Police advice and leave at once.

     Now, I would like to talk about the obstruction of pavements in Mong Kok and Causeway Bay in the past days.  Police noted that, since the removal of obstacles from the major thoroughfares in Mong Kok on November 25 and 26, some people had used shopping as an excuse to assemble and cause malicious nuisance to the shops and public transportation in Mong Kok every night.  They shouted loudly, rummaged shops, blocked shop access and even interfered with shopkeepers who tried to close the shops.

     Protestors continued to gather along various roads in Mong Kok last night (December 12) and in the early morning of today (December 13).  They claimed that they were shopping and scattered to different areas including Sai Yeung Choi Street South, Soy Street, Nathan Road and Argyle Street.  They obstructed pavements and disturbed business of nearby shops.  Police issued numerous advice and warnings and asked them to leave.  Regrettably, they refused to comply and continued to yell and scatter around the area.

     Subsequently, Police warned the protestors that they were taking part in an unauthorized assembly and warned them to leave the area as soon as possible.  However, they refused to comply.  In the end, Police arrested seven persons including three males and four females, aged between 16 and 52, in Mong Kok area.  Two of them were wanted persons while the remaining five were arrested for .obstructing Police officer in the execution of duty・, .failure to produce identity card on demand・ and .fighting in a public place・.  The cases are now investigated by Mong Kok Police District.

     I noted that some people claimed to be shopping and assembled on Yee Wo Street of Causeway Bay in an attempt to block traffic and disrupt public order in the previous two nights.  It was obvious that the malicious and disorderly acts of these people caused grave concern for the nearby business operators and the passers-by.  Many of the shop operators were forced to tolerate with these disturbing behaviours as they were worried of being targeted by these troublemakers.  Some of them chose to close their shops early to avoid chaos.  These harassing acts harmed the business of innocent shop operators and the livelihoods of the employees.  They also obstructed citizens and visitors who genuinely wanted to shop in the area.  This had damaged the image of Hong Kong as an international city.  I believe the general public will not tolerate or endorse such harassing and law- breaching acts.

     I need to remind the public that these disruptive and harassing acts are not only selfish but may also constitute the offences of .nuisance in public place・, .unlawful assembly・ and .obstructing Police officer in the execution of duty・.

     Police urge these protestors to stop committing these selfish and malicious acts and not to deprive others of their rights and freedom.  They should express their opinions in a peaceful and rational manner.  It is against the law for anyone to deliberately disrupt public peace or engage in acts that disregard the safety of others. Police will take enforcement actions against such illegal acts.

     Police have all along been politically neutral and we will continue to carry out our statutory duties in a fair and impartial manner.  As a professional law enforcement agency, we do have the obligation to restore public order and to reopen the blocked roads.

     I once again urge the illegal road occupiers in Causeway Bay to respect the rule of law and to cease the illegal occupation immediately so that public order can be restored.  Members of the public, students in particular, should stay away from radicals and not be used or incited to commit illegal acts.  Police will take resolute enforcement actions against anyone who attempts to illegally block roads that have already been reopened or any other roads.

Ends/Saturday, December 13, 2014
Issued at HKT 20:11