Date
20 November 2019
A policeman faces off with anti-government protesters during clashes at the Hong Kong airport on August 13. Photo: Reuters
A policeman faces off with anti-government protesters during clashes at the Hong Kong airport on August 13. Photo: Reuters

Time for all sides to step back

After a few days of peaceful sit-in protests, the Hong Kong airport witnessed some ugly scenes and clashes this week. To prevent any further disruption in its operations, the airport operator obtained an interim injunction from a court in relation to demonstrations at the key transport facility.

The court order restrains persons from “unlawfully and willfully obstructing” the airport’s activities. Following the injunction, anyone violating the ban could face contempt of court charges, a criminal offence that is punishable with jail sentence.

It remains to be seen whether the injunction will really deter protesters from stirring up trouble again at the airport.

Judging from the experience over the past two months, when a huge number of people staged rallies despite being denied permission by the police, one cannot rule out the possibility that the airport could again face a risk of disruption.

If, in the worst-case scenario, the airport once again grinds to a halt as a result of mass protests, it will fuel worries about the city’s economic prospects and the prospect of a recession.

Worse still, in the long run, Hong Kong’s status as an international financial hub could come under threat as well.

The airport demonstrations were initially peaceful, rational and non-violent, but unfortunately things spun out of control and descended into violence.

We saw two mainland men being detained and assaulted by young Hong Kong protesters, and also a police officer drawing his gun and pointing it at some protesters during a violent confrontation.

Given the recent incidents, there is a worry that the protesters and the police could now be just one step away from accidental and lethal clashes.

As such, we strongly urge all sides to take a step back immediately and refrain from violence before the situation reaches the point of no return when lives could be at risk.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Aug 15

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Hong Kong Economic Journal