Officers must do whatever is necessary to maintain public order, claims Junius Ho
Police should have used tear gas and if necessary shot protesters during the Mong Kok riot, says outspoken lawyer and district councillor Junius Ho Kwan-yiu.
Speaking on RTHK’s televised City Forum debate on the incident, Ho said law enforcement officers were “too restrained” when faced with street mobs.
“Police used shotguns [during the 1967 riot] … To maintain public order and for self-protection, [police officers] have to take any necessary actions” Ho said.
When asked by another participant of the debate, Oscar Lai Man-lok of student group Scholarism, whether Ho believed police would have been justified in killing city residents, Ho replied: “It would not be killing Hongkongers. It would be killing rioters.”
Ho, a controversial figure, also said it was necessary to implement Article 23 anti-subversion laws in the city.
During the forum, lawmaker Starry Lee Wai-king of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, compared the violence to a cancer she said society needed to get rid of before it spread.
On the opposing end of the debate, Baggio Leung Chung-hang, convenor of post-Occupy group Youngspiration, blamed police mishandling of the situation for causing the violence.
Lai pointed the finger at the Hong Kong government’s refusal to listen to residents and to resolve an array of livelihood issues as the source of the unrest.
The overnight clashes in Mong Kok led to more than 100 casualties, five of them media personnel, being taken to hospital.
A journalist from Chinese language newspaper Ming Pao, surnamed Tang, claimed he was attacked by officers despite complying with their orders and showing his press card.
On Friday, Police Commissioner Stephen Lo Wai-chung said in a letter the case was listed as a “complaint” and was being handled by the Complaints Against Police Office. But he made no mention of a criminal investigation.
Lo was responding to an open letter by the Ming Pao Staff Association demanding a criminal investigation into why the journalist was assaulted.
During the clashes in Mong Kok, a number of journalists were attacked by protesters unhappy about being filmed.
On Sunday an article entitled “Our fists will treat you the same way your lenses treat us” went viral on social media, demanding journalists protect the identity of members of the public while reporting.
“Journalists do not have a right to publish photos. Therefore they should not film anything that could affect the daily lives of non-public figures,” it said.
Sixty-five people have so far been arrested in relation to the incident, one of the worst outbreaks of public disorder since rioting in the 1960s.
Since Thursday, 40 people have been charged with rioting while another person is accused of unlawful assembly.
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