Police chief set to 'face off' with pan-dems at DC meeting

January 14, 2020 13:04
Police Commissioner Chris Tang is set to attend a meeting of the Central and Western District Council on Thursday and field questions regarding the handling of the anti-government protests. Photo: HKEJ

With the pro-democracy camp now controlling 17 out of the 18 District Councils, several pan-dem DC members have vowed to question the police over their handling of the anti-government protests, outlining plans to summon police commanders to DC meetings to explain the course of events.

Some district councilors have even established concern groups to voice feelings about perceived police brutality, and are determined to prioritize the issue within the DCs.

A source who is familiar with the matter has revealed that many middle-ranking police officers had refused to attend the DC meetings for fear of getting grilled by the pan-dems, and hence the new Commissioner of Police, Chris Tang Ping-keung, has decided to take it upon himself to go to the meetings to answer questions in order to set an example to the middle-ranking officers.

Over the years, it has, in fact, been a common practice among the District Councils to take turns to invite the police chief for briefings on the law and order situation and crime-fighting efforts.

As of now, it has been confirmed that Tang will attend the meeting of the Central and Western District Council (C&W DC) scheduled for this Thursday, marking his “debut” at such events.

It is understood that at some time later, he would attend a meeting of another DC.

Sources say that the police commissioner replied to the C&W DC recently that he would come to its meeting.

Newly elected chairperson of the C&W DC, Cheng Lai-king, of the Democratic Party, said frankly that she had never expected Tang to attend their meeting "so soon".

Tang’s decision to "go on the offensive" and meet with community figures from the “pan-yellow” bloc may be an initiative borne of good intentions, but it would be impossible for him to successfully reverse the current icy relations between the public and the police just by attending one or two DC meetings.

As such, what the “Big Chief” should do apart from communicating with pro-democracy DC members is to take the initiative and review the root causes of the underlying issues in relation to law enforcement, rather than continue to offer excuses and try to justify officers' questionable behavior. 

Tang needs to bear in mind that unless there is a new approach, it will be highly difficult to rebuild the public's trust in the police.

This is an updated version of an article that appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Jan 13

Translation by Alan Lee with additional reporting

[Chinese version 中文版]

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JC/RC

Columnist of Hong Kong Economic Journal.