My Take

The grievances of our police must be heard if we want an effective force

The outpouring of frustration evident in the demonstration over the jailing of seven officers is a warning we cannot ignore

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 25 February, 2017, 1:02am
UPDATED : Saturday, 25 February, 2017, 1:02am

Whatever is your take on the jailing of seven policemen for their part in beating an Occupy protest leader, the unprecedented demonstration this week of 33,000 serving and former officers and their families should be a serious cause for concern.

At a time when social discontent is rising and violent protests are becoming increasingly common, an efficient and disciplined police force is often our last resort.

But widespread frustration and falling morale will only make our officers less productive and more unprofessional. That’s why their sense of grievance against the jailing of their colleagues needs to be properly addressed, not just dismissed or criticised.

More and more young activists and radicals feel they can shout at, and even physically confront, the police with little or no consequence.

Certainly the lenient treatment those Occupy protesters and Mong Kok rioters have received from the courts have given them a sense of impunity.

This feeling of entitlement has been taken to an absurd extreme by people like Ken Tsang Kin-chiu, the seasoned provocateur who was roughed up by the seven officers.

With no evidence, Tsang claimed his case was just the tip of the iceberg and that the police chief should apologise to the public for his beating. But, he himself was hardly the innocent victim, having been jailed for five weeks for assaulting police officers and resisting arrest. He is on bail and has launched an appeal.

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

The massive show of support in this week’s demonstration by the police should put these arrogant and self-righteous people on notice.

They should know that even a highly trained and professional force like the city’s police have a breaking point.

Increasingly, police officers feel they are being targeted or criticised for whatever they do or don’t do. They think they are in a no-win situation, and can only take the abuses as they come without recourse.

That’s the main reason why some are agitating for criminalising abusive behaviour against police.

Far from being wrong in showing support for his force, police chief Stephen Lo Wai-chung is actually not doing enough. He must show he is 100 per cent behind his officers; likewise, the chief executive and the secretary for security.

If we want a professional and competent police force, they must know they have the full support of law-abiding citizens.