Pan-dems slam reported govt plan to buy stun guns, net launchers

January 16, 2020 13:27
Secretary for Security John Lee expressed support for any measure that could deal with the violence of rioters more effectively and lower the risk of injuries for everyone. Photo: RTHK News

Pan-democratic lawmakers lashed out the government's reported plan to buy more sophisticated weapons to deal with protesters.

This came amid local media reports, citing sources, that police were planning to acquire electroshock weapons such as stun guns as well as net launchers as part of the regular equipment for officers amid the current civil unrest.

In a Legislative Council meeting on Wednesday, Democratic Party lawmaker Roy Kwong Chun-yu asked Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu whether there was such a plan – as if tear gas and rubber bullets were not enough.

Lee did not directly respond to Kwong’s question, but only said his bureau supports any measure that could deal with the violence of rioters more effectively and lower the risk of injuries for everyone, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

"We support the use of equipment that would lower the risk of injury for all sides," RTHK quoted Lee as saying. "Some such equipment are used by overseas police with good record of usage."

For every kind of equipment, the police force always studies the risks involved and uses the experience of overseas law enforcement agencies as a reference, the security chief added.

His remarks raised quick objections from pan-democrats, who said such a plan would not help resolve social conflicts but only induce more anger from the public.

It is understood that the police force will adopt the use of stun guns and net guns based on the experience of its US counterpart, and the Tactical Unit will be responsible for buying the items for the use of officers assigned to the Emergency Unit as part of their regular equipment.

Democratic Party lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting opposed the plan, noting that there have been cases abroad where the use of a stun gun resulted in the death of the target.

“In these months, we saw so many cases in which police officers abused their power to use excessive force to suppress the protesters or even innocent civilians,” RTHK quoted Lam as saying.

Lam said he is very much worried that such an upgrade in the police armory would only worsen the social unrest.

Lawmaker Dennis Kwok Wing-hang from the Civic Party also said the purchase and use of stun guns by the police would only deepen people’s distrust of the force and aggravate social rifts, and that the weapons would be additional tools for police brutality.

Executive Council member Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, who is also chair of the New People's Party and a former security chief, said she has never heard of the plan to buy stun guns and net guns for the police.

Nonetheless, no matter what equipment the police buy, it will always be controversial, Ip said, adding that what's more important to consider is whether the purchased equipment can be used effectively.

Pro-Beijing lawmaker Tony Tse Wai-chuen, who is also a vice-chairman of the Independent Police Complaints Council, said the police force will continue to renew and upgrade its equipment according to the situation it faces.

Acquiring new equipment is worth considering if it can help lower the number of innocent victims, Tse said.

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