Former security secretary Ambrose Lee has lashed out at the youth involved in the attacks on police last week in Mong Kok, describing the attackers as “beasts” who have lost their sense of rationality.
The protesters sought to justify their campaign in the name of fighting for justice for hawkers and “overthrowing tyranny”, but they lost the moral ground as they resorted to violence, Lee said on Monday.
Speaking on a DBC radio program, Lee said it was not surprising that some police officers had to throw back bricks at the rioters during the clashes.
The officers had taken some measures to protect themselves, especially as they were not allowed to use their guns, said Lee, who is a Hong Kong deputy to China’s National’s People’s Congress.
The police should use water cannon or heavier weapons next time, the former security chief said.
During a march Sunday, some retired policemen said the police should open fire in emergency situations.
According to messages circulated in a Whatsapp group in the police community last week, some officers also felt that they should be allowed to fire their weapons if they come under a mob attack.
A retired police officer surnamed Law said in a RTHK phone-in program on Feb. 11 that hawkish sentiment has been rising in the police community after the Feb. 9 clashes in Mong Kok.
He said some police officers have got used to beating up protesters in the wake of the 2014 Occupy protests, and that former police commissioner Andy Tsang had encouraged a hard line stance.
But now, officers were disappointed with current police chief Stephen Lo’s weak stance against protesters, he said.
However, Beijing has passed on instructions not to open fire if similar incidents happen again, Bowen Press reported on Feb. 13, citing a source familiar with the matter.
The Central Coordination Group for Hong Kong and Macau Affairs, led by Zhang Dejiang, chairman of National People’s Congress, is said to have held an urgent meeting after the Mong Kok clashes.
According to the report, Zhang is said to have outlined the following orders from President Xi Jinping:
- The Hong Kong government should continue to stop provocateurs and deal with them under the law. The government should identify the activists spreading ideologies for Hong Kong independence and separate them from the general public. Authorities should maintain law and order in the city and avoid making the situation more complicated. The government, meanwhile, should take steps to ease the tense social atmosphere.
- The Hong Kong government should avoid firearms or violent attempts to suppress peaceful protests or voices in society. Authorities should abide by law when dealing with violent movements. The government should try to bring an end to all factors that contribute to political instability.
- The way Beijing handled its June 4, 1989 protests do not apply to Hong Kong, and mobilization of troops in Hong Kong is forbidden. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Hong Kong Garrison cannot take any unauthorized actions. Meanwhile, PLA troops based in Guangdong should also not take any military action in Hong Kong without a command endorsed by the Central Military Commission.
- Strengthen the mainland public opinion as the mainstream voice. Forbid any voices that fuel Hong Kong-mainland conflicts and those that promote doubts on the implementation of “One Country, Two Systems”. Also, authorities must curb ill-intentioned Hong Kong groups and external forces from engaging in subversive activities in the special administrative region.
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