Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam and Cabinet condemn acts of violence

Lam orders cops to bring those in MTR station attack to justice, slams Liaison Office vandalism

Hong Kong's embattled Chief Executive Mrs Carrie Lam said she had instructed Police Commissioner Stephen Lo to find the culprits behind the rail station attacks. PHOTO: REUTERS

Saying that violence would only breed more violence, with everyone suffering as a result, a grim-faced Carrie Lam and her Cabinet members yesterday condemned the separate acts of violence that shook Hong Kong on Sunday night.

Anti-extradition protesters had vandalised a Chinese liaison office, and an armed mob launched a brutal attack on protesters and train passengers at Yuen Long MTR station.

At a news conference yesterday, the Hong Kong Chief Executive blasted the group of radical protesters who had vandalised the exterior of Beijing's Liaison Office in Sai Ying Pun, calling it a blatant challenge to national sovereignty.

Mrs Lam, who was flanked by key members of her administration in a show of solidarity, said the act of defacing China's national emblem threatened the "one country, two systems" principle and hurt the feelings of all Chinese people.

Following the defacing of the office, violent clashes broke out between the demonstrators and the police in Sheung Wan and Central.

Police fired rounds of tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the hostile crowd throwing bottles, umbrellas and bricks at officers.

Around the time this was happening, dozens of masked men dressed in white tops and armed with sticks and umbrellas stormed Yuen Long station near the Shenzhen border and began attacking protesters and commuters. At least 45 people were hurt, one man critically.

News outlet HK01 reported last night that six men, including suspected members of the Wo Shing Wo and 14K triads, have been arrested in connection with the attack.

Mrs Lam said she had instructed police chief Stephen Lo to bring the culprits to justice. "Hong Kong is a society based on the rule of law. We do not condone any violence. Last night, we witnessed the lawlessness and wilful hurt of citizens and train passengers by the attackers in Yuen Long station," she said.

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Mr Lo, too, slammed Sunday's violence, and said officers were actively gathering evidence on the attack.

Police have come under fire from pro-democracy lawmakers and citizens for their delay of more than half an hour before going into the station to help victims. Some witnesses also said that men wearing helmets and armed with metal rods were not searched or arrested by officers.

Mr Lo said many officers had been deployed to Hong Kong Island, some 30km away, to deal with the protesters in Sheung Wan.

Furthermore, police were also called to three other fights and a fire in the Yuen Long area around the same time, he said.

Pro-democracy lawmakers also said yesterday that suspected triad members had warned protesters not to set foot in Yuen Long, but police did not make preparations to protect civilians.

Yesterday afternoon, protesters wearing masks trashed the office of pro-Beijing lawmaker Junius Ho, public broadcaster RTHK reported. Mr Ho had been filmed shaking hands with white-shirted men in Yuen Long shortly before Sunday's violence.

In a joint statement issued yesterday, the pro-Beijing camp in the legislature said the storming of the Liaison Office and various other acts "seriously contravened the national Constitution, destroyed Hong Kong's social order and harmed the people's interest".

Pro-establishment lawmaker Starry Lee said at a briefing: "Whoever commits such insult against our own nation, deprives himself of his own dignity. As we all know, they should be condemned."

It was not Hong Kong's tradition or the wish of Hong Kong people to turn the city into the enemy of China, of which Hong Kong is a part, she added.

Liaison Office chief Wang Zhimin slammed the violence, saying that Hong Kong protesters have hurt the feelings of China.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 23, 2019, with the headline Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam and Cabinet condemn acts of violence. Subscribe