Date
27 April 2017
Ah Fung, whose warrant card is shown (inset), said many of the special training sessions the police underwent proved useless as the techniques they learned were ineffective. Photos: Bloomberg, Stand News
Ah Fung, whose warrant card is shown (inset), said many of the special training sessions the police underwent proved useless as the techniques they learned were ineffective. Photos: Bloomberg, Stand News

Occupy protests a disaster for police, says frontline officer

Ah Fung (not his real name) is a typical police officer, politically neutral, always ready to obey his superiors and serve the public.

He was one of thousands of officers deployed to handle the 79-day Occupy protests.

Speaking to reporters of news website Stand News on condition of anonymity, Fung said the civil disobedience campaign was a disaster for the police force, from the deployment of frontline officers to decisions from the top and the police public relations efforts.

He said he supports genuine universal suffrage, but not through street occupation. He is not politically well-versed: He would often mix up the League of Social Democrats and People Power, and couldn’t get the name of the Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok quite right.

Fung said he was not in favor of some of the actions of some of his comrades during the protests, but he also have sympathy for them.

The daily briefing by Chief Superintendent Hui Chun-tak of the public relations branch of the Hong Kong police was a disaster, Fung said.

It was said that the police wanted to adopt a wait-and-see approach, to let public discontent over the street occupation grow as the protest campaign dragged on. By then, it would be easier for the police to clear the protest sites as there would be quarrels and conflicts among the protest participants.

But the plot never played out as planned, Fung said.

Fung said many of the special training sessions the police underwent proved useless as the techniques they learned were ineffective.

He cited the clashes between the pro-democracy activists and the anti-Occupy group in Mong Kok on Oct. 4. The police force deployed at the site was obviously insufficient, and as a result, the image of the police suffered.

In view of the manpower shortage, the commander at the site decided that it would be inappropriate to make arrests as they were overwhelmed by the crowd and the situation could go out of hand. 

In the end, the commander ordered officers to escort the Blue Ribbon crowd to MTR stations and taxis, even if police had to pay for the fares.

Because of such moves, the police were accused of protecting the anti-Occupy crowd and teaming up with triad members.

What frustrated Fung most was that the police viewed themselves as a tool of the government rather than law enforcers. Fung insists that the government intervened in the operations of the police.

In the police academy, cadets were told that police serve the people by executing the law, and not by serving the administration.

“Even if someone is doing something that might harm national security, you do not arrest him if none of his actions has violated the law,” Fung said.

Fung also disagreed with the police decision not to act while insisting every day on the mass media that the protests were unlawful.

“If they were unlawful, we should make arrests and let the court decide if they should be convicted,” Fung said.

He said applying for restraining orders from the court was stupid. “If you have the power given by law to stop someone doing something unlawful, why would you need a restraining order?” Fung said.

Fung also revealed that members of the police management have instilled the thinking that the protesters were the enemy. “It was like a culture that has spread throughout the squad, we were led to believe that we should support the police no matter what,” he said.

“The management should never have defended the seven police officers accused of having [beaten up] Civic Party’s Ken Tsang, let alone calling on colleagues to raise funds for them for the legal proceedings,” Fung said.

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EL/AC/CG

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