Sun Hung Kai Properties Ltd. (00016.HK), owner of New Town Plaza in Sha Tin, insists that its staff did not call the police and ask them to disperse the anti-extradition bill protesters inside the shopping mall.
SHKP general manager (leasing) Judy Chow Shuk-man also told a press conference on Wednesday that the police did not alert the mall’s management that they would conduct an operation at the mall, adding that customers would have been told to leave had it been aware of the police operation in advance, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
Since the terms of the government lease on the mall require its management to keep passageways open to the public 24 hours a day, SHKP will express its concern to police that there should be no law enforcement actions taken before citizens’ safety is ensured, Chow stressed.
Besides, as there are multiple passageways, it was impossible to know in advance which one the police would use to enter the mall, said Chan Kam-fai, managing director of Kai Shing Management Services, a unit of SHKP that is responsible for running New Town Plaza.
Some 1,000 people gathered at the customer service counter of the mall on Tuesday night to demand an explanation as to why police officers were allowed to enter the mall and disperse the protesters inside, thereby resulting in chaos and injuries to both parties.
A video clip that has been circulating on social media since Sunday shows SHKP staffers apparently ushering police officers in riot gear into the premises that night after many protesters moved inside the mall following a street clearing operation.
Hundreds of people showed up at the mall again on Wednesday night, with some of them sending aloft balloons with messages denouncing the mall’s management for the way it handled the situation.
The two staffers caught on camera apparently assisting the police also attended the press conference.
According to the duo, they just led the officers to a passageway connected to Lucky Plaza, which an officer claimed to be their destination, and that they just walked together for a short distance.
Chan said it is hoped the staffers’ names can be cleared.
Speaking about the violence that erupted on Sunday night, Chan said no one wanted to see the entire incident happen.
As to whether SHKP will condemn the police operation, he said the company is still studying the matter but will definitely inform the police force of its opinion about the incident.
Chan also said no floor plan of the mall had been given to police as it could be accessed easily by law enforcers.
Meanwhile, color paper notes pasted by discontented citizens on the mall’s customer service desk had been moved to two “Lennon Walls” set up at the concourse on the ground floor, he said, adding that citizens’ opinions were always welcome.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, SHKP said it regrets that the incident “caused chaos and led to disappointment of citizens, mall customers and tenants”.
– Contact us at [email protected]