Turning police into paramilitary force by buying water cannon

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 May, 2015, 5:17pm
UPDATED : Friday, 29 May, 2015, 5:17pm

DAB legislator Christopher Chung Shu-kun made the preposterous comment that water cannon were just about "wetting your bodies".

If such were the case, there would not be the chilling account by Dietrich Wagner, a 70-year-old protester in Germany, who in 2010 was blinded by a jet of water from a water cannon straight to the face at 15 metres away.

Also, there would not be the report by Amnesty International on the 2008 South Korea protest where demonstrators suffered temporary blindness and punctured eardrums from water cannon. And there would not be the incident of photojournalist Carmo Correia, who suffered a concussion and a broken cheekbone after being hit by a water cannon in the 2010 Macau labour day protests.

When there was a debate in Britain over the purchase of water cannon in 2014, the Association of Chief Police Officers said that "water cannon are capable of causing serious injury or even death".

These cannon can also eject solutions laced with chemical irritants that cause burns. Dye has also been incorporated in order to identify people who have been in the vicinity of the protests in order to track them down for arrest afterwards.

There have also been reports of further modifications such as tear gas and front plough blades.

Water cannon also pose a threat to the safety of frontline journalists, and to their equipment and valuable footage.

Hong Kong already has one of the highest ratios of police officers per capita.

The further para-militarisation of police with the purchase of water cannon is a sign of a government that knows it no longer has the legitimacy to govern, and thus has to resort to ruling by force and intimidation.

Recent polls have shown satisfaction with the police has dropped to an all-time low. Arming the police further with new instruments of violence is no answer to the governance crisis of our city.

It is appalling that the pretentious pro-government parties embrace brute force and intimidation but vetoed democrats' repeated calls and proposals to mend the broken relations between the police and the people.

Dr Kenneth Chan Ka-lok, legislative councillor