HONG KONG (XINHUA) - For television actor Mat Yeung who often acts in police dramas, he has never imagined that he would become more famous for supporting the real cops.
Yeung, who also owns a soup restaurant in Wan Chai, says he is now enjoying enormous popularity probably unseen in his 20 years of acting.
For instance, when he is in the house, about 10 diners will come up, give him thumbs up and take selfies with him even after lunchtime.
"I did not anticipate that and it has never happened before," he said.
It was not because he acted in the latest cop drama, Police Tactical Unit. His fans are praising him for his vocal support for the Hong Kong police who struggle to keep peace amid seven months of turmoil.
Even at the most volatile time, Yeung made no secret of his position.
He often posted group photos with police officers and openly expressed gratitude to their hard work on social media platforms. Along with several other celebrities, he visited police headquarters to cheer the cops on just in December.
This led to rioters thrashing his restaurant. They smashed windows, damaged CCTVs and spray-painted doors with graffiti. Other than receiving threatening phone calls and malicious comments online, his critics also lodged fake complaints on the hygiene and fire safety of his restaurant.
All these had caused his business revenue to drop by about 30 per cent.
But he remained firm with his stance. "Whether the business is good or not doesn't bother me, but I am very sad that rioters became more and more violent in streets and more common people got hurt."
"Business is not that important anymore. Now it's the struggle for humanity that matters. I feel that in the past months, humanity is lost in Hong Kong."
He noted that in early December, he could not sleep after watching the live broadcast which showed rioters bashing a man with a drain cover while the victim was trying to remove a road barricade.
"The Hong Kong where I was born and grew up was a place full of love. But that Hong Kong is gone."
A 70-year-old street cleaner died in November after being hit by a brick thrown by a rioter, and a construction worker was set ablaze for criticizing rioters' vandalism .
It could have been worse but for the police, Yeung said.
"I can see our selfless police officers work so hard to protect us. However, some people kept smearing them and cooking up fake news to mislead the public." There are still a large number of people in Hong Kong who support the police but do not know how to express themselves, he added.
"I came across an elderly lady on the street one day, who rushed to me, grabbed my hand, and told me with tears that I spoke out what she wanted to say."
He urged more Hong Kong people to come forward to support the law enforcers.
As for the protestors, he hoped that they could fight for their cause through civilized means and not to resort to violence and vandalism.
"Only when unrest ends can we rebuild our home and bring back our peaceful lives."