The government has come in for criticism for honoring some police officers who were involved in handling the Mong Kok street protests earlier this year.
Questions have been raised especially over the appropriateness of giving an award to an officer who fired live rounds into the air during the February clashes between protesters and the police.
Lawmaker Raymond Chan Chi-chuen, vice chairman of the People Power political group, said a commendation to Wong Hing-wai, the traffic officer who fired live ammunition into the air, will be seen as a provocative act and will widen the mistrust between the public and the police.
A policeman who fires shots should not be deemed brave, said Chan, who is seeking re-election from a seat in the New Territories East constituency in next month’s Legislative Council polls.
Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu, a Civic Party lawmaker who is also seeking re-election, demanded that the police department unveil a review report to the public so that citizens will get to know the truth about controversial Mong Kok incidents.
Baggio Leung Chung-hang, who is running for a Legco seat on behalf of the localist group Youngspiration, said authorities should not have endorsed Wong’s act by honoring him.
Leung, who was at the scene in Mong Kok when Wong fired the warning shots, said the officer did a wrongful act and that honoring him was inappropriate.
The public now has reason to be concerned that Hong Kong would be reduced to a police city, he said.
The criticism came after Police Commissioner Stephen Lo Wai-chung awarded “lanyards” to four officers Wednesday, citing their courage and dedication to duty during the Feb. 8 clashes between police officers and protesters in Mong Kok.
The awardees were three traffic officers from Kowloon West and a female station sergeant of the Kowloon city police district, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported.
Officers from 15 units of police force were also commended in a closed-door ceremony attended by high-ranking officers, including those from the Counter Terrorism Response Unit, Police Tactical Unit and crime unit of Kowloon West Regional Headquarters.
More than 100 people, including police officers and protesters, were injured in the Mong Kok clashes, which the government has dubbed a “riot”.
Demonstrators took to the streets following a dispute triggered by eviction of street hawkers from Portland Street by officers of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department.
Dozens of people who were accused of participating in the clashes are facing court trials, with most being charged with one count of rioting.
A source who attended the police awards ceremony Wednesday told Apple Daily that Police Sergeant Wong Lok-on, who suffered skull and cheekbone fractures during clashes, was awarded the top “red lanyard”, a commendation by the Chief Executive.
Wong Hing-wai, the officer who fired shots in the air to warn protesters, was awarded the “lanyard in four colours”, a commendation by the police commissioner.
He was specifically praised for his act because it was considered as one that required “unmatchable courage”.
Though Wong’s move was highly controversial, an internal police investigation deemed the action reasonable and proper as it was felt that the officer was trying to keep himself and his colleagues away from harm.
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