Masked people all over town, and it's not Halloween yet

October 08, 2019 13:51
An anti-government protester walks past a burning barrier outside the Mong Kok MTR station on Saturday. Photo: Reuters

More people wore their masks on the streets over the long weekend after the SAR government implemented the ban against wearing masks during public assemblies.

That's how effective the administration has been in using its colonial-era powers to quell the mounting violence in the streets. The fact is, public mistrust in the government has reached such depths that the violence has only worsened after the mask ban, and as a result, MTR operations have to be suspended and major shopping malls closed to avoid further damage.

At the time of this writing, several MTR stations remained closed. Yours truly was unable to take the metro over the last 60 hours or so, and was pretty much stranded in my flat above a closed shopping mall in Tseung Kwan O.

But my inconvenience was nothing, compared to what happened to the train stations, Maxim's restaurants,  Best Mart 360 outlets as well as some mainland banks and mobile phone companies, many of which were severely damaged by radical protesters the past few days.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said the "extreme violence" over the weekend has made it hard for Hong Kong to return to normal.

She noted that 40 percent of the arrested protesters were under 18, while 10 percent were under 15. She, however, maintained that it was too early to say if the mask ban was ineffective.

Before the ban was implemented, Hong Kong was already suffering much, particularly the retail, dining and hotel businesses, which employ some 600,000 people. Many workers in these sectors now face forced leaves, if not actual layoffs.

Tourism during the National Day "golden week" was pretty much dead.

Because of the turmoil, the number of people going through Lo Wu border checkpoints was down 48 percent to 135,000 per day during the week, while the number at Shenzhen Bay and Futian dropped 31 and 38 percent respectively to 105,000 and 106,000.

Macau, on the other hand, saw a 13 percent growth in tourist arrivals to 906,070, of which 744,600 were from the mainland, according to the Macau Tourism Board.

With all the horrible things happening in our midst, we don't need to wait for Halloween to get scared.

And protesters are wearing masks even before Halloween – in defiance of the mask ban.

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EJ Insight writer