19 January 2020
Chief Executive Carrie Lam and Secretary for Security John Lee speak to media after visiting injured police officers on Monday. Photo: Reuters
Chief Executive Carrie Lam and Secretary for Security John Lee speak to media after visiting injured police officers on Monday. Photo: Reuters

Lam condemns ‘rioters’, urges people to defend rule of law

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor condemned “rioters” who attacked police officers during a clearance operation inside a mall in Sha Tin on Sunday night.

Ten police officers were injured in the clashes, Police Commissioner Stephen Lo Wai-chung told media on Monday.

Lam, along with Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu, visited the injured officers at Alice Ho Miu Ling Nethersole Hospital in Tai Po on Monday afternoon.

Speaking to media after her visit, Lam said her administration would not tolerate violent protests as she urged the people to defend the rule of law.

She said she would continue to support the police in enforcing the law as she pledged a full-scale investigation into the incident in order to pursue liability, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

The police force is working with the Department of Justice to complete related investigations as soon as possible before prosecution is initiated, the chief executive said.

Clashes broke out after some protesters moved to the New Town Plaza shopping mall on Sunday night. So far 47 people have been arrested during the clearance operation.

Lam said the police officers were “very professional and very restrained”, but they were attacked by people, who, she said, “can be described as rioters”.

The rule of law has been “the cornerstone” of Hong Kong’s success, and the vast majority of the citizens in the city respect and treasure the rule of law.

“Time and again”, during or after recent peaceful rallies, there had been “people with ulterior motives” resorting to violence against the police and such acts had “dealt a direct blow to the rule of law”, she said.

Lam dismissed suggestions that some officers had let out their emotions on ordinary people and journalists, saying the force has been acting in accordance with its professionalism, code of conduct and guidelines, RTHK reported.

Lam also refused to meet protesters’ demand for setting up an independent commission of inquiry in the clashes between police officers and protesters.

If some people, including journalists, think they have encountered any “inappropriate or unreasonable” behavior on the part of the police officers, they can file complaints with the Independent Police Complaints Council, she said in response to a reporter’s question.

Lee noted that violent protesters are “becoming more and more organized” and some of them were “beating up” police officers “like crazy” during the clashes Sha Tin.

The security chief said people “should not rationalize or glorify violence”.

In a joint statement, 39 pro-establishment lawmakers urged different sectors of the society to handle the social issues peacefully and rationally, and not to slander the police force.

The joint statement also called on Hong Kong citizens to discern between violent and peaceful protesters.

Starry Lee Wai-king, chairwoman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB), the largest political party in the legislature, said she believes citizens are expecting principal officials to shoulder responsibility for dealing with the current impasse.

The government should communicate with various stakeholders while rally organizers should also think about what’s best for Hong Kong, Lee added.

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