Mobsters signal plans to wreak havoc in Year of Monkey: China Daily

A rioter holds a lamp post as a fire burns in the Mongkok area of Hong Kong, on Feb 9, 2016.
A rioter holds a lamp post as a fire burns in the Mongkok area of Hong Kong, on Feb 9, 2016.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

In its editorial on Feb 9, China Daily says the riots in Mongkok will further ruin the image of Hong Kong, ranked as China's safest city.

On a festive day when all Hong Kong people should be celebrating the beginning of the Year of the Monkey, some mobsters turned it into a dark chapter in the city's history.

Hundreds of them, well-prepared and ill-intentioned, terrorised the streets of Mongkok on the night of the Chinese New Year Day, assaulting police officers and reporters, blocking traffic, damaging vehicles and setting fire in various places.

Dozens of police officers were injured, some seriously, as all hell broke loose in a 7-hour riot triggered by a group of localist activists resisting police actions to evict illegal hawkers there.

Unlike the previous illegal occupation and anti-parallel trade activities, the participants in the riot on Monday night were much more violent and malicious, intending to injure.

They attacked law enforcement officers with such life-threatening weapons as bricks pried from pavements and wooden clubs ferried to the "frontline" with their vehicles.

Their actions were directed by their leaders standing on top of vehicles and speaking through magaphones.

It was apparent that their actions were pre-meditated and organised.

Such degree of violence, causing a police officer to fire two warning shots into the air, was not seen since the unrest in 1960s.

Anybody who has seen the turmoil last night would not believe the city has long been ranked as the safest city in China.

The graphic violent scenes have made it to news webpage of international news media, painting a very negative picture of this city.

The Pearl of the Orient will further lose its luster.

The New Year Day riot was as a signal from the radical elements that they are ready to lift their havoc-wreaking actions to a much higher level.

The law enforcement authorities must stand firm and act with resolution in face of an expected escalation of violence.

Those responsible for what happened last night, be they the mobsters beating up police officers in the streets or the orchestrators behind them, must be brought to justice.

And, as the Legislative Council by-election is approaching, Hong Kong people must not allow such bad elements to enter the legislature if they want peace and stability in their homeland.

* China Daily is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, a grouping of 22 newspapers seeking to promote coverage of Asian affairs.