Only one woman found in search of PolyU campus

November 27, 2019 13:23
Graffiti is spray-painted on a wall of the PolyU campus. The search for holdout protesters on the campus continued on Wednesday. Photo: Reuters

Alexander Wai Ping-kong, vice president of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU), said there is a low possibility that dozens of anti-government protesters are still hiding on the campus, following a search that has continued on Wednesday.

Teams led by Professor Wai entered the university on Tuesday to search for holdout protesters after more than a thousand had left the campus in the past few days thanks to successful mediation efforts by several public figures. The campus has been under siege since Nov. 17 following serious clashes between police and protesters.

The teams, with about 50 members, included Man Hau-chung, dean of PolyU’s Faculty of Engineering, university staff and volunteers from the Hong Kong Red Cross. They were divided into seven teams to comb the entire campus.

After hours-long search, they were only able to locate one female protester, a young adult, described as weak and emotionally unstable, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

“As at 4:00 p.m. [on Tuesday], the teams have searched most of the buildings, including the Library and the carparks. They found a female adult, who appeared physically weak and emotionally unstable,” according to a statement issued by the university.

“The Hong Kong Red Cross first-aid team provided her with immediate onsite medical care, and PolyU counsellors are putting in great efforts to persuade her to leave the campus,” it added.

In a media briefing following the search, Man said the woman was found lying on a couch in the students’ union building, adding that she looked very tired and did not respond to the searchers’ calls.

The Red Cross team that examined her physical condition concluded that her health was fine, except that she appeared weak and emotionally unstable, Man said.

It is understood that as of Tuesday night, the woman insisted on staying on, even after PolyU staff had tried their best to persuade her to leave.

Wai told reporters his team had basically searched all the rooms on the premises but found no one else.

He admitted that there could still be others hiding somewhere on the campus, which covers a huge area, although he said the possibility was not high.

Once it is confirmed that there are no more protesters on the campus, workers will first remove dangerous objects before cleaning work begins, he added.

Aside from the PolyU search teams, education sector lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen and several district councilor-elects also helped in looking for holdout protesters on the campus on Tuesday but did not find any.

Given the situation, Ip said the police should leave as soon as possible and let the university take over its own campus, adding that even if there were still protesters inside the campus, their number would be very small.

He called the continuing police siege meaningless since there is hardly any possibility of another confrontation.

Another search was being conducted on Wednesday.

PolyU council chairman Lam Tai-fai said in a radio program on Wednesday morning that the suspension of classes at the university for almost two weeks has huge implications, adding that many scientific research results might have been ruined.

Lam said he hoped the police could end their siege of the campus as soon as possible and leave so that the university could start removing all dangerous items and pave the way for the resumption of classes.

More teams are joining the search for holdout protesters on Wednesday, which Lam said is the last day for the search.

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