Date
21 October 2019
People gather at the customer service counter of New Town Plaza in Sha Tin on Tuesday to complain about the police operations inside the mall on Sunday night. Photo: RTHK
People gather at the customer service counter of New Town Plaza in Sha Tin on Tuesday to complain about the police operations inside the mall on Sunday night. Photo: RTHK

Residents express anger at New Town Plaza over Sunday clashes

Residents voiced anger at management and staff of a shopping mall in Sha Tin, suspecting them of assisting police in conducting clearing operations against anti-extradition bill protesters on Sunday night.

Some 1,000 people gathered at the customer service counter of the New Town Plaza shopping mall around 8 p.m. on Tuesday, demanding that Sun Hung Kai Properties, which owns the mall, explain why police officers were allowed to enter the mall and disperse protesters inside, thereby resulting in chaos and injuries to both parties, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

In a statement, SHKP said it “had no prior knowledge of the police operation” and regretted the incident. 

The huge crowd, some of whom sat on the floor and stairs while others remained standing, chanted slogans such as “Shame on New Town Plaza” after they received no response from management regarding their demand. Many stores opted to close early.

Meanwhile, a billboard and the customer service desk at the mall were turned into “Lennon Walls”, with people sticking color paper notes on them to express their views.

The demonstration was triggered by a video clip, which has been circulating on social media since Sunday, showing the mall’s staffers ushering officers in riot gear into the premises that night, after many protesters moved inside the mall following a street clearing operation, RTHK reported.

The ensuing melee between demonstrators and police officers at the mall ended with injuries to both sides, as well as to some passers-by. So far 47 people had been arrested during the incident.

Amid the tense atmosphere at the mall on Tuesday, some of the staff at the customer service counter complained of feeling unwell and called for paramedics. At least one mall employee was taken to hospital.

Democratic Party lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting, who was at the scene, called on the crowd to remain peaceful, only to be booed.

In a press release on Monday, SHKP said it “had no prior knowledge of the police operation … inside the shopping mall, nor the suspension of railway services, which made it difficult for people inside the shopping mall to leave in an orderly fashion”.

It also noted that there are a number of public passageways at New Town Plaza linked to various entrances, which, under the terms of the government lease, must be kept open to the public 24 hours a day.

The property developer said it deeply regrets that the Sunday incident had caused “a number of injuries” in the mall, and “the inconvenience caused to customers, visitors and tenants”.

Meanwhile, the service office of the mall received a notice from the police that they had obtained a warrant from the court to request CCTV footage of the Sunday incident, a spokesman for SHKP said, adding that the company’s legal counsel had advised them to comply.

Pan-democratic members of Sha Tin District Council on Tuesday said they will move a motion about police tactics on the agenda of a general meeting next week, and members of the public are invited to attend, RTHK reported.

They also plan to file a complaint over what they say were “violent” tactics used by the police at the mall on Sunday night, the report said.

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