Nearly 30 academics and professionals have launched an online campaign calling for the government to set up an independent committee to look into the clashes between protesters and police in Mong Kok on the night of Feb. 8.
They include Joseph Wong Wing-ping, former secretary for the civil service; Eric Cheung Tat-ming, principal lecturer in the department of law at the University of Hong Kong; and Kenneth Leung Kai-cheong, lawmaker for the accountancy constituency, Apple Daily reported Monday.
By 8 p.m. Sunday, they had collected more than 600 signatures, the report said.
While the government condemned the incident — in which more than 100 people, mostly police officers, were injured — a “riot”, it has not made an in-depth investigation into the way police dealt with it, a joint statement by the campaign’s organizers said.
They said the clashes might have resulted from public discontent with the government, which should find out the root of the conflict instead of handling its aftermath with suppressive methods, which might only instigate more violent resistance and do no good to society.
Citing the fact that the government formed an investigative committee soon after the riots in 1967 as an example, the group urged the government to do the same this time, not only to clarify the truth but also to prevent similar incidents from recurring in the future.
Edward Yiu Chung-yim, associate professor in the department of geography and resource management at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and one of the campaign’s organizers, was quoted by Ming Pao Daily as saying an independent committee with credibility can help find a way out for the divisions in society.
The Civic Party and the Democratic Party expressed their support for the campaign.
But Ip Kwok-him, a lawmaker from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said the organizers of the campaign were trying to switch the focus from the incident to governance issues.
He said that what needed to be probed as regards what happened that night was only how police deployed their officers, and the force can do that through an internal investigation.
Democratic Party legislator James To Kun-sun said such a committee could provide a “fair assessment” but admitted it would not be easy for it to be formed, as the government might try to exclude potential members who are opposed to it.
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