How Maoming, HK deal with protests differently

December 05, 2019 18:39
Tear gas canisters fly over protesters during clashes with police outside PolyU on Nov. 17. The HKSAR administration lacks the energy, wisdom and capacity for resolving the political crisis through political means, says the author. Photo: Reuters

Like Hong Kong, the city of Maoming in Guangdong province has been gripped by anti-government protests recently.

However, while the protests in our city rage on, the unrest in Maoming has been quickly put to rest after local authorities acted on the people's demand.

Last week, Maoming saw clashes between police and local residents, who took to the streets to protest a plan by authorities to build a crematorium in a neighborhood.

But after only four days, the protests ended as the local party secretary announced that the crematorium plan was being scrapped for good.

On the other hand, the HKSAR administration lacks the energy, wisdom and capacity for resolving the political crisis through political means.

For example, despite mounting public calls for setting up an independent commission of inquiry into the various factors contributing to the unrest, particularly police brutality, the government has continued to reject the idea.

Once hailed as “Asia’s finest”, our police force has earned the resentment of many Hongkongers, who have sealed police brutality inside their minds.

In particular, after the indiscriminate beating of people by police at the Prince Edward MTR station on Aug. 31, outrage over police brutality or the demand for an end to police brutality has become the main theme of the protest movement.

And numbers don’t lie. According to the findings of a poll conducted by the Centre for Communication and Public Opinion Survey of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, in early October, 51.5 percent of the respondents said they have “zero” trust in the police, as compared to just 6.5 percent back in early June.

The poll results indicate that public confidence in our law enforcement has virtually collapsed in just a matter of months.

Another recent survey carried out by the Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute in mid-November also suggests that public opinion is turning overwhelmingly against the administration.

According to its findings, 84 percent of the respondents believed the government is to blame for the escalating violence in society, 74 percent said the police are to blame and only 41 percent put the blame on the protesters.

That being said, it is definitely difficult for the people of Hong Kong to accept any proposed inquiry into the entire protest movement that conveniently skips the matter of police brutality, or that which avoids looking into the July 21 and Aug. 31 attacks, as well as the alleged torture of arrested protesters at the San Uk Ling Holding Centre.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Dec 5

Translation by Alan Lee with additional reporting

[Chinese version 中文版]

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HKEJ columnist