Date
19 November 2017
Central Policy Unit head Shiu Sin-por (right) and non-official Executive Council  member Cheung Chi-kong (left) reportedly backed Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying in the use of tear gas on protesters on Sept. 28. Photo: HKEJ
Central Policy Unit head Shiu Sin-por (right) and non-official Executive Council member Cheung Chi-kong (left) reportedly backed Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying in the use of tear gas on protesters on Sept. 28. Photo: HKEJ

Who advised use of tear gas on protesters?

I would like to spend some time on this question: Who advised Leung Chun-ying to fire tear gas?

One thing is certain: No police officers, not the commanders at the scene nor the Commissioner of Police himself, have the guts to use such force without authorization from a higher power.

It’s unlikely that the decision was from Beijing’s liaison office in Sai Wan, where the officials are all realistic that fierce action to confront protesters may drag Hong Kong into turmoil and can in turn affect their career. For them, representing the central authorities in a developed society like Hong Kong is no doubt a cushy job and no one would risk their position in this way.

They are also among the people with the least intention to have the People’s Liberation Army involved as the last resort, because if troops are sent in to control the situation, the liaison office director will be the first person to be sacked by Beijing.

Local leftists know too well that a hardline approach to contain mass student protests can backfire at any time. Indeed, Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang, a respected member of the indigenous pro-communist groups, was among the first to express concern over the safety of the students.

The business community as well as Heung Yee Kuk and the establishment interests in the New Territories it represents will also reject any method to fan people’s discontent, as in the worst-case scenario of chaos and bloodshed, capital may flow out and land prices will plunge and these people are doomed to suffer.

Thus, the most suspicious group can only be the Central Policy Unit, a government think tank that provides advice on policy matters to the chief executive and the unit has been taken over by Leung’s core supporters like Shiu Sin-por and those from the semi-official One Country Two Systems Research Institute. Cheung Chi-kong, the institute’s executive director, sits on the Executive Council.

These are all hardcore figures and can be more extreme in dealing with student protests than local leftists. They have almost hijacked the seven million Hongkongers with their recklessness.

(This is a commentary in the Hong Kong Economic Journal’s Oct. 6 issue.)

(Translation by Frank Chen.)

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JL

Riot squads loom in the tear gas, carrying what appears to be shotguns to disperse student protesters in Admiralty. Photo: Bloomberg


The police warn students with the message "stop charging or we use force" but unfortunately "disperse or we fire" at the back of the banner is identified by media. Photo: marstin.pixnet.net


Riot police aim guns at students in Admiralty. Photo: TVB


Former full-time member of the Hong Kong Government’s Central Policy Unit, former editor-in-chief of the Hong Kong Economic Journal

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