Police Commissioner Stephen Lo Wai-chung faced several questions from the media on Mondayfollowing the violent attacks by suspected triad members on anti-government protesters and passersby at the Yuen Long MTR Station.
Responding to allegations that the police failed to take timely action to prevent Sunday’s violence in Yuen Long, Lo suggested that his officers did the best they could do under the circumstances as most of the police manpower was deployed elsewhere in the city.
Meanwhile, he refuted accusations that his officers may have deliberately turned a blind eye to the attacks on anti-government protesters or even connived with criminal gangs to teach the demonstrators a lesson.
Attending a press conference along with Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and other principal officials, Lo made it clear that the police “will not tolerate any violence” and that they are determined to “bring the offenders to justice”.
The police chief stressed that his force has, and always will, treat triads as its enemies and that there is no question of any concession to criminal gangs.
Lo’s remarks came amid speculation that some of the white T-shirt clad men who attacked people in Yuen Long on Sunday night were triad gangsters.
Questions have been raised as to why the police failed to quell the violence or make arrests on the spot.
Democratic Party lawmaker Andrew Wan Siu-kin pointed out that police officers did not arrive at the scene until late in the night despite being alerted about the attacks at the MTR station. Meanwhile, of those officers that made it to the station later on the night, a person was caught on camera purportedly chatting with members of white-clad assailants.
Lo dismissed talk that the police had colluded with the violent attackers, insisting that the force should not be defamed.
The police are always on guard against law-breakers, Lo said, adding that his force is a “polar opposite” to triads.
Many of those attacked claimed on the internet that they had called the police for help when they were attacked, only to be told that they should have stayed home if they felt afraid.
The police arrested no one that night, despite officers questioning some white-clad people who were wielding attack weapons such as sticks and pipes.
Facing several questions, Lo sought to assure the public that his officers did the best they can in the situation, even as he promised further investigations and follow-up action.
Specifically when asked why officers arrived so late, Lo reiterated that much of the force’s manpower had been deployed on Hong Kong Island where a large-scale protest march and other incidents had taken place on Sunday.
He noted that there were multiple violent incidents in the city, including one in Sheung Wan, taking place at the same time as the Yuen Long attacks, causing the force to scramble in relation to manpower arrangements.
As to why the Yuen Long Police Station was closed and was unable to deal with complaints over the attacks, Lo said the station had to close its doors because it was surrounded by a large number of demonstrators at that time.
Though the police station was shuttered, people could still call the 999 hotline for help, Lo pointed out.
When asked why some citizens were unable to connect with the hotline, Lo insisted that the calls were not rejected, and that problems may have arisen only because there may have been too many incoming calls at the same time.
Lo urged members of the public to have faith in the law enforcement force, saying his officers will never deliberately ignore any cases of law violation.
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