Police officer Steve Hui Chun-tak has won the hearts of many pro-democracy students despite tensions between opposite sides of the barricades.
Hui, chief superintendent of the police public relations bureau, appears on television at four o’clock every day to give updates on the street protests, along with deputy chief fire officer Joseph Leung Wai-hung and senior traffic police superintendent Lee Kwok-chung.
Since Sept. 30, or two days after the Occupy campaign started, the trio have been dishing out information on clogged streets and traffic jams, and how the protests have been disrupting traffic and blocking ambulance services.
That should make them very unpopular in the protest movement. But not Hui.
Many young activists have come to look forward to his daily briefings because they find his presentation highly entertaining.
Last Wednesday, a netizen set up a Facebook page called “Four O’clock Hui Sir”, and since then, Hui’s popularity has surged.
The page has gained more than 50,000 likes in less than a week, and most of them came from the protesters themselves.
The Facebook page posts photos of Hui’s likable facial expressions and makes fun of his pet phrases such as “I appeal”, “I will now recap in English” and “fan q” (for thank you).
Joanna, from the post-90s generation, admits she’s a fan of Hui, saying she loves how the police officer talks and she can’t help but laugh when he says “I appeal”.
“Hui Sir has a sense of humor. It helps to ease the tense atmosphere and reduce people’s hostile attitude towards police,” she said.
In fact, some reporters asked him to visit the occupied areas, and Hui, in his usual polite self, said he will consider the suggestion.
Sin Yat-ming, professor of marketing at the Chinese University, said a Facebook page has to be related to the talk of the town to become very popular. As “Four o’clock Hui Sir” is related to the ongoing Occupy campaign, it immediately becomes a hot topic among netizens, Sky Daily quoted Sin as saying.
Francis Fong, chairman of the Hong Kong Association of Interactive Marketing, said media attention on the Facebook page has helped to boost its popularity.
But he said if the daily media briefings stop, the popularity of the Facebook page may not last.
Eric Chui Wing-hong, professor of applied social sciences at the City University, said Hui’s sudden fame will help bolster the image of the police.
He said Hui’s way of talking is very friendly, allowing the public to feel at ease and not regard him as a top police officer.
“When he faces sharp questions during press briefings, he will still thank the reporter politely before he answers. It shows that although their opinions differ, he still respects them,” Chui said.
– Contact us at [email protected]