• Sun
  • Dec 28, 2014
  • Updated: 8:15am
My Take
PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 26 April, 2013, 2:27am

Brutal police? Look closer to home, US

When it comes to brutality, abuse of power and the undermining of the freedom of assembly, our police can't hold a candle to their counterparts in the US. That's why it's amusing to read the latest US State Department report on human rights around the world, including its criticism of Asia's finest.

The report raises concerns over freedom of assembly and claims that Hong Kong police are turning to aggressive and abusive tactics. Like what, beating up peaceful protesters, routinely arresting a majority in protest marches but not before pepper-spraying them and threatening them with batons? These are so common and tolerated by a docile population already beaten into submission by a security state. China? No, I mean the US. I am sorry, but Hong Kong police are simply far better trained, less corrupt, less violent and far more respectful of protesters.

When Occupy Wall Street started in September 2011, marchers were turned away, with a hundred arrested. This was why the Occupy movement ended up in Zuccotti Park, technically in the Wall Street neighbourhood but far from the institutions being protested against. The internet has an extensive collection of cases of brutal manhandling of protesters from New York to the infamous pepper-spraying of peaceful, seated participants in an Occupy demonstration at the University of California, Davis.

You would think "the land of the free and home of the brave" would protect people's right to protest and assemble. You would be wrong. The whole system is now designed to discourage and undermine such basic civil rights. With a persistently high jobless rate, wage slaves in the US can't afford to have a police record, even if it's just a misdemeanour (as opposed to a felony in US legal lingo), when background checks by companies have become a corporate hiring norm and job tenures get shorter and shorter. You protest in the US at considerable risk to your ability to find your next job.

As we saw with the Boston Marathon manhunt, putting a major city in lockdown is not difficult with Black Hawk helicopters and SWAT teams when most US police forces have been turned into paramilitary units.

By comparison, our police officers are harmless kittens.


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This article is now closed to comments

Agree, I can't find better words to describe the situation when US cops/paramilitary units beat up people in the streets but that their chiefs can still shamelessly accuse our police of brutality.
And America has the gall to say that our police is abusive? This charcoal fired pot is calling the electric kettle black!
over the years, I have learned to simply just ignore the reports from usa as far as human rights are concern.
its frankly full of crab ...
I don't think you have very much interaction with the Hong Kong Police in the bar of the FCC, Alex. They are not better trained, certainly not less corrupt, I don't know about less violent, but respectful? One of the most surprising things I have noticed in Hong Kong is that police officers are addressed by ordinary members of the public as "Ah Sir." It is quite an education to see a a 45 year old working class man being bullied and shouted at by an arrogant pipsqeak of a 21 year old constable.
I believe the role of Police is keeping Law and Order and protecting the people of the country they serve. Abuse, no, you must be wrong, Mr Alex Lo. Harmless kittens still can scratch, beware but your words "Hong Kong police are simply far better trained, less corrupt, less violent and far more respectful of protesters" may soon be history!
Also, the criticism on the police that the report reflects comes almost entirely from the events surrounding the July 1, 2012 protests surrounding the visit of then-president Hu.

And guess who wrote a column back then about how the "heavy hand of the law came down too hard"? And who demanded a public apology from the police commissioner on these very pages? And who called for the police officers in question to be disciplined? Hint: his name ends in -lex Lo.


Now the State Department's annual democracy and human rights document reports (again: it just reports, it does not pass judgement) the very same concerns you uttered then, and you come down on them? A little strange... I see only one of three possibilities.

You didn't read the (relevant section of the) report in full. Or you didn't understand report. Or you are completely inconsistent. Let us know which one it is please.
I think Mr. Lo has the right to criticize when the HK police **** up. On the other hand, he also has the right to criticize the US when it sticks its god damn nose where it does not belong! I'd respect these human rights reports a lot more if the state department also did a report on the US using words like "alleged" and "claimed"! Otherwise these reports are nothing more than hypocrisy!
It these annual reports, which are political in nature, are to be believed, HK must have deteriorated so much in human rights, press freedoms and police brutality that it must now be a totalitarian police state devoid of freedoms worse than Singapore and the Mainland! If these are merely unfounded "allegations", why bother reporting?! These reports are probably written by Martin Lee!
Nonsense. Mr Lo does not understand what the State Department's annual report on human right practices is. It does not express an opinion, nor does it constitute a reprimand from the US government. It is simply a compilation of factual reports from the State Department's diplomats around the world that documents the past year key's events and developments in the area of democracy and human rights.

It is NOT a comparison. It is NOT a policy document. It purely an informative report, mostly based on local sources. And indeed, the section about Freedom of Assembly in Hong Kong most 'damning' statements are limited to:
"Activists alleged police acted under instructions from Beijing, which police denied." and "Demonstrators continued to claim that their ability to protest had become increasingly difficult due to Hong Kong Police Commissioner Andy Tsang."

Note the third person perspective. Note the use of verbs like 'claim' and 'alleged.' There is nothing there Mr Lo. This report is merely a reflection of the view of opposition groups and demonstrators that feel mistreated by the police. It is a good thing that is being documented by offices like the US State Department. If (only if!) such reports would intensify, it could lead to actual statements ('concerns') by the SD, or a policy change.

Also, this report noted almost exactly the same thing last year (the Executive Summary of the Hong Kong section is almost verbally identical). So really, no news.
"our police officers are harmless kittens"
because of their royal origin
the British administration understood its lack of legitimacy
laissez faire was euphemism for lack of initiatives - lazy affair
the police became the world’s finest
as it was trained to be highly tolerant
if hit, turn to offer your other cheek
and not to cause qweilo superiors bad publicity




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