Protesters trash Singapore Reit's mall in Hong Kong

Protesters vandalising Festival Walk (far left) in Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong, on Tuesday. In a separate incident, a fire broke out at a unit next to a DBS branch (left) in the city. PHOTOS: REUTERS, RICHARD LIM/FACEBOOK
Protesters vandalising Festival Walk (above) in Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong, on Tuesday. PHOTO: REUTERS

They smash glass panels, start fires at Festival Walk; no injuries reported

Festival Walk, a shopping centre in Hong Kong owned by Singapore-listed Mapletree North Asia Commercial Trust (MNACT), suffered "extensive damage" caused by protesters on Tuesday night.

A few groups of protesters smashed the glass panels at the property's entrances, including the office lobby and balustrades on various levels of the mall, the real estate investment trust (Reit) said yesterday before the stock market opened.

The protesters also set fire to a Christmas tree within the mall, as well as the office lobby, the Reit said. The fires were eventually put out. There was no apparent reason for the attack.

There were no reports of injuries at the property located in the Kowloon Tong area of Hong Kong, the Reit said.

Meanwhile, a DBS spokesman said yesterday that a Hong Kong branch of the Singapore bank was not affected by a fire that broke out in a neighbouring unit.

Videos of the fire were posted on Facebook yesterday, showing the unit beside the DBS branch engulfed in flames, and were widely shared online.

A video shows a crowd gathering opposite the unit before moving to pick up debris from the road in front of the unit. As a fire engine arrives, a man tries to put out the fire with a bucket of water.

"It was a neighbouring unit, and not the DBS branch, that was unfortunately on fire," the DBS spokesman said. She added that the branch's staff are safe and the premises were not damaged.

Festival Walk had been closed since 2pm on Tuesday amid city-wide disruptions, and remained closed yesterday.

MNACT's manager is assessing the damage and will provide an update in due course.

 
 
 
 

Units of MNACT faltered yesterday morning following news of the damage to Festival Walk mall in the midst of the unrest in the city. The Reit sank 4.92 per cent to close at $1.16 yesterday. More than 44 million units changed hands, making it one of the most heavily traded counters on the Singapore bourse.

Hong Kong entered a third straight day of chaos yesterday after a night of intense battles between pro-democracy protesters and the riot police that saw some of the most violent scenes in more than five months of unrest.

On Tuesday, protesters overran City University, which is adjacent to Festival Walk mall. Students in hard hats and gas masks spent much of Tuesday barricading the university campus, making homemade shields and stockpiling bricks and petrol bombs on bridges, Reuters reported.

On Sunday afternoon, altercations also broke out at Festival Walk during what was supposed to be a peaceful gathering of protesters. The manager's team was on site to immediately direct shoppers, tenants and their employees out of the premises, and the mall was closed at 6.45pm on Sunday, MNACT said in a filing on Monday.

There was minimal damage to the property from Sunday's incident, and the mall had resumed operations on Monday.

The Singapore-based Reit generated about 62 per cent of net property income from Festival Walk for its second quarter ended Sept 30.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 14, 2019, with the headline 'Protesters trash S'pore Reit's mall in HK'. Print Edition | Subscribe