Yuen Long attack could threaten HK financial hub status

July 29, 2019 13:44
A damaged car is seen during a protest against the July 21 Yuen Long attacks. Photo: Reuters

Eddie Yue Wai-man will replace Norman Chan Tak-Lam as the new chief executive of Hong Kong Monetary Authority in October. Looks like Yue has his work cut out for him to safeguard the city's financial stability amid waves of protests and the government’s poor handling of the situation.

The police force has been under fire for allegedly "allowing" the attack by a group of gangsters on protesters and ordinary commuters at the Yuen Long MTR Station on July 21. The scandal may seriously tarnish Hong Kong's image as a global financial hub.

In fact, 11 countries and regions have issued travel alerts on Hong Kong. Some multinational corporations are said to have started reviewing their Hong Kong business amid safety concerns.

Protests and unrest are nothing new in the West, where such events were sometimes far more violent and even resulted in deaths. But business confidence will not be hurt as long as the government and law enforcement officers deal with protests properly.

On the night of July 21, scores of men in white T-shirts stormed the rural MTR station and assaulted train passengers with pipes, poles and other objects. Hong Kong police were reportedly out of sight for over half an hour.

The police regional command of New Territories North is investigating whether there was collusion between officers and triad members. But this kind of self-investigation is ridiculous.

Police Regional Commander Tsang Ching-Fo told reporters that police officers had “tried their best” and “we understand that citizens might be a little disappointed with the outcome”. His words, for many, betrayed the police force’s lack of resolve to ferret out the truth.

Most importantly, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor seems intent on not doing anything to resolve the crisis.

Hong Kong’s image as a global financial hub is facing a real threat.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on July 26

Translation by Julie Zhu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Hong Kong Economic Journal columnist