Alpais Lam Wai-sze
Alpais Lam Wai-sze, a teacher at Pui Ling School of the Precious Blood in Fanling, sparked a protest in Mong Kok on August 4, 2013, after a viral video from July 14 showed her shouting profanity at police officers. In the clip, Lam was seen openly criticising the way the police were handling a confrontation between the Falun Gong and the Youth Care Association. Lam has taught for 18 years and won the Chief Executive's Award for Teaching Excellence in the 2010/2011 academic year.
Keep Hong Kong's police out of politics
A town hall meeting in Tin Shui Wai on Sunday was supposed to enable the chief executive to listen to the livelihood concerns of local people. Instead he began his speech with a defence of police actions at a rally in Mong Kok the previous Sunday, when groups clashed over a verbal attack on officers last month. He sent out a surprisingly strong message to the whole city that he supports the police, as any city mayor in other countries would do. He had no choice. Otherwise, he and his government will be seen as weak and he could lose the support of law enforcement. But Leung's speech capped a week of controversy that left question marks over the force's image of neutrality. His tough stance has intensified debate on an issue that has divided society.
The August 4 rally was organised to support police against accusations of bias in handling a confrontation between the Falun Gong religious movement and a pro-government group. Police won praise for their professionalism in keeping the peace at the rally amid verbal and physical clashes.
But the force later became involved in an unprecedented public disagreement with the Independent Police Complaints Council over whether the rally was political. This was prompted by the participation of a retiring superintendent. This was not an issue because he is on retirement leave and his actions can no longer affect impartiality. Nonetheless the force's claim that the rally was not political is debatable, if it means other police officers could have allowed themselves to be drawn into the dispute. This is close to being a departure from the basic principle of staying out of politics.
It is very important for police to maintain neutrality. Hong Kong thrives on the rule of law, under which the public respect the police and their lawful authority. The police rightly pride themselves on being seen as neutral. Recent events have clouded that perception. There is an urgent need for clarification, including the definition of what is "political". All concerned should cherish the rule of law and good reputation of the police. As the city becomes more politicised in the run-up to electoral reform there are bound to be more protests and confrontations in which the police can again expect to find themselves caught in the middle. This issue is a test of leadership for the chief executive and the police commissioner. If the force is to maintain its hard-won reputation as one of the world's finest, it needs full community support.