Protest conflict a concern for many

Poll finds nearly 60pc fear tension will escalate; one-third worry about riots

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 August, 2013, 4:53am

Three out of five Hongkongers fear the city may see more clashes between pro- and anti-government groups in the future, while about one-third fear rallies will descend into large-scale riots, a poll has found.

And they disapprove of radical behaviour from both sides of politics, according to a survey by Chinese University's Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies.

Researchers interviewed 893 people from August 19 to 21, a day after Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's second meet-the-people session, in Kwun Tong, where minor scuffles broke out.

About 57 per cent said they were worried about the growing number of physical clashes between pro- and anti-government groups, while 58.5 per cent believed the tension could escalate in the next three years. Only 8.9 per cent felt the tension would ease.

While 33.6 per cent feared there was a possibility of large-scale riots should the confrontations continue, 37.6 per cent held the opposite view.

The majority of those surveyed disapproved of any form of radical behaviour. About 59 per cent did not approve of action by anti-government groups, while 61 per cent found the action of government supporters unacceptable.

The survey's sampling error was plus or minus 3.28 per cent.

As well as the trouble in Kwun Tong, there have been two other large-scale stand-offs between pro- and anti-government groups this month. On August 4, nearly 3,000 people jammed Sai Yeung Choi Street in Mong Kok as supporters and opponents of primary school teacher Alpais Lam Wai-sze clashed. Lam was earlier caught on film verbally abusing police officers. At least two journalists were assaulted.

The next week saw violent confrontations between pro-government and pan-democratic groups outside a meeting between Leung and Tin Shui Wai residents. Suspected triad members were apparently called in to support the pro-government activists. Four were arrested.