HONG KONG • Television actor Mat Yeung, who is often in cop dramas, has never imagined that he will become more famous for supporting the real police.
Yeung, 38, who also owns a soup restaurant in Hong Kong's Wan Chai district, said he is enjoying enormous popularity unseen in his 20 years of acting. Many diners give him the thumbs up and ask to take selfies with him.
"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 have struggled to keep the peace amid seven months of turmoil.
Yeung often posts group photos with police officers and openly thank them online. Together with other artists, he recently visited police stations to cheer the cops on.
This led to rioters thrashing his restaurant. They smashed windows, damaged closed-circuit television cameras and spray-painted doors with graffiti.
He also received threatening phone calls, malicious comments online, as well as fake complaints about the hygiene and fire safety of his restaurant.
All these have caused his business to suffer. But he remains firm about his stance, saying: "Whether the business is good or not doesn't bother me, but I am very sad that rioters have become more violent in the streets and more common people have been hurt.
"Business is not that important any more. I feel that in the past months, humanity is lost in Hong Kong."
He said that in early December, he could not sleep after watching a live broadcast that showed rioters using a drain cover to bash a man trying to remove a road barricade.
He said: "The Hong Kong where I was born and grew up was a place full of love. But that Hong Kong is gone."
Things could be worse but for the police, he added. "I can see our selfless police officers working so hard to protect us. However, some people have kept smearing the police, and cooking up fake news to mislead the public."
Urging more people to stand up for peace, Yeung said there are still a large number of Hong Kongers who support the police, but do not know how to express themselves.
"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."