The dark side of the Hong Kong protests

August 20, 2019 19:32
Media coverage of the Hong Kong protests has been biased, with the violent acts of the demonstrators not getting enough attention, a business leader argues. Photo: Bloomberg

A letter to the Editor:

I am very disappointed with both the foreign and local media's coverage of the recent events in Hong Kong, as the narrative has mostly been superficial and one-sided.

Although the vast majority of the protesters are peaceful and law-abiding, there has been a small group of radical extremists who are bent on creating maximum damage to public law and order and to the local economy, an issue that has not been given sufficient attention by the media. 

The radical elements seem to be aiming at provoking an intervention of the People's Liberation Army in Hong Kong so that international economic sanctions can be brought against China and Hong Kong for breaching the "One Country, Two Systems" arrangement.

This group has thrown stones and fire bombs at police stations and their living quarters, surrounded government buildings, blockaded highways and the entrance to the Cross-Harbour Tunnel, attacked the Chinese Liaison Office in Hong Kong and thrown the Chinese National flag into the sea.

The protestors have even occupied the Hong Kong International Airport for days causing hundreds of flights to be cancelled as well as massive disruption to civilian life and economic loss to ordinary business.

Motorists who complain have been dragged out of their vehicles, beaten up and have had their cars damaged. Passengers wishing to board their flights have been harassed, and a few Mainland Chinese visitors were badly beaten up in the presence of members of the local media who refused to intervene.

So far, over 20 policemen have been badly injured and two have seen their fingers lopped off by  attackers. Details of the family members of the police force have been leaked to the public, and the members have been harassed and, in some cases, even received death threats. These atrocious acts are seldom mentioned by the Western media.

This group of extremists attends the protests fully equipped with helmets, goggles, gas masks and backpacks of combat hardware. The weapons they use against the police include bricks, long knives, corrosive powder, high voltage laser guns, fire bombs, slingshots with metal bullets and military grade combat equipment. These weapons are normally found in a guerrilla warfare in a Third World country and not in a cosmopolitan financial center like Hong Kong.

Organizers can be seen distributing MTR tickets, luncheon and convenience store vouchers and even cash after a rally. The scale of weaponization and detailed organization of this group is unprecedented, leading many in Hong Kong to suspect that they are trained and funded by external elements. We have simply not seen anything like this in Hong Kong.

The criminal acts of this small group are textbook mob rule tactics and would not be tolerated in any civilized society.

Unfortunately this dark side of the recent protests has not been covered in the Western or local media which still frames the events simply as a fight for democratic reform and repressive police brutality.

Repeated calls for unconditional release of those arrested during the riots not only undermine the rule of law in Hong Kong but also send the wrong message to the entire world that crimes can be committed here with impunity in the name of freedom and democracy. Unless the silent majority speaks out, One Country One System may soon become a self-fulfilling prophesy.

I strongly urge you to publish this letter so that your international readers can have a better and clearer understanding of the dynamics at work on the ground in Hong Kong as well as the reasons for the actions Beijing may need to take to restore public order in Hong Kong.

Robert Lee

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The author is Non-Executive Chairman of Pacific Century Premium Developments