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German and Israeli consulates reportedly give ‘positive response’ during meeting with Hong Kong police over Holocaust remarks

Diplomats were angry over remark at mass gathering comparing situation of police to that of Jews during second world war

PUBLISHED : Monday, 27 February, 2017, 5:26pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 February, 2017, 1:30pm

The German and Israeli consulates reportedly gave “a positive response” during a damage control meeting called by the Hong Kong police in the wake of controversy over a Holocaust comparison made by a police officer at a mass rally.

The Post learned that the force met representatives of the two consulates last Friday in a bid to contain the fallout, while long-running Israeli newspaper Haaretz described the comparison as “ill-advised” in a report published on Sunday, adding that the police faced “a type of diplomatic incident”.

Insiders worry as anger at officers’ jailing for Ken Tsang beating spreads through Hong Kong police

“We received a positive response from both consulates,” a police source familiar with the matter said.

He said the force reiterated its stance in the meeting. “The consulates said they understood it was just an opinion of one officer and that they would continuously support police work.”

Security minister Lai Tung-kwok said on Monday that he understood the force had contacted the two consulates via their “established channels”.

“I hope the matter can be resolved,” Lai said.

On Tuesday, the German consulate issued a statement via its Facebook page reiterating the “good relations” between the it and the force.

“We would like to thank the Junior Police Officers’ Association of the Hong Kong Police Force for issuing a statement on the remarks made by one of their officers at the end of last week,” the statement read.

“We are very well aware that those comments were made by an individual and in no way reflect the opinion of the HKPF in general.”

Police morale has slumped following the sentencing of seven officers to two years in jail for beating up activist Ken Tsang Kin-chiu, prompting some 33,000 serving and former officers to stage a demonstration at a sports ground in Kowloon last Wednesday to show support for their convicted colleagues.

Six out of the seven jailed officers have lodged appeals. A Department of Justice spokesman said Lau Cheuk-ngai, Chan Siu-dan and Kwan Ka-ho notified the authority that they would challenge their convictions and sentences.

Three other officers – Wong Cho-shing, Lau Hing-pui and Wong Wai-ho – filed appeal applications earlier. Only Pak Wing-bun has yet to act.

Watch: Mass police rally at a sports ground in Kowloon

Video footage taken at the gathering last Wednesday showed a policeman, identified as a station sergeant from the elite Special Tactical Squad, saying on stage: “It’s like we’re now in the second world war. We are Jews facing the persecution of the Nazis, aren’t we?” The crowd yelled “yes” in response.

The comparison prompted a backlash from the German consulate, saying the remark was “utterly inappropriate”, echoing a similar statement by Israeli diplomats calling the reference “regretful”.

Kwok Cheuk-kin, who is known for mounting legal challenges against the government, submitted an application for a judicial review over the controversy.

He argued that the police gathering should have fallen within the official definition of a “meeting” as set out in the Public Order Ordinance. He suggested that under such a definition, organisers should have applied to the police for a “notice of no objection” in accordance with the law.

Kwok asked the court to declare that the staff associations involved should have applied for a notice of no objection for the event.

The retired civil servant named Commissioner of Police Stephen Lo Wai-chung as the respondent in his application.

Meanwhile, a group of individuals including political heavyweights Dr Leong Che-hung and Maria Tam Wai-chu have set up a relief fund to provide support and help to officers who were on active duty during the Occupy protests in 2014.