Hong Kong police
Get more with myNEWS
A personalised news feed of stories that matter to you
Learn more
A police officer asks member of the public to move away during an anti-government protest in Hong Kong on September 6, 2020. Photo: ZUMA Wire/dpa

LettersHong Kong protests and police action: don’t jump the gun

  • It is fair to expect restraint from police when insults are being hurled, but quite another matter when it’s bricks and petrol bombs that are being lobbed
The tone of Mr Martin Purbrick’s article (“ What lessons can be learned from the Hong Kong police’s handling of the 2019 protests?”, June 3) reveals he seeks more to jump on the Hong Kong- government-bashing bandwagon than to make an objective assessment on the police force’s handling of the 2019 protests.
If anything, for someone who served as policeman, I’m surprised he’s not more understanding of the immense pressure the police were put under at the time. I’ll serve as the devil’s advocate, though there isn’t anything remotely devilish about the Hong Kong Police Force.

Some protesters were right about one thing – policemen probably don’t have the cutthroat ambition to be highflying bankers, but that is actually an advantage for those serving in a position of authority, translating into a level of humbleness in serving the community.

Some even implied that the force was made mostly of mainlanders or that they took some kind of perverted pleasure in confronting the people they served, but the unfortunate harassment they faced in their own personal lives showed unequivocally that they are part of the same society.
One of the issues was that protesters couldn’t take it out on the government and thus they went for the police


Man arrested at Hong Kong airport over stabbing of officer during national security law protests

Man arrested at Hong Kong airport over stabbing of officer during national security law protests
Was it possible that the police may have used excessive force? Yes, but many continue to forget there is a human being behind that uniform. It is fair to expect restraint from the police when one is hurling insults, another matter when bricks and Molotov cocktails are being used.

What pains me as an observer is how we can lose objectivity so easily – there was not a single death at the hands of the police and barely any shots fired.

In that regard, Mr Purbrick makes a veiled criticism of Hong Kong’s political status, but then omits a striking comparison to the world’s leading democracy in one very similar incident (the invasion of the US Capitol) that resulted in a number of deaths in just one day of clashes (which, in Hong Kong, lasted for a whole year).


Night clashes around Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Night clashes around Hong Kong Polytechnic University

The only aspect I would agree with is giving further powers to the Independent Police Complaints Council – hardly anything to lose given that in its ranks are some of the most reputable individuals in town.

Meanwhile, unlike Mr Purbrick, I do commend the Hong Kong Police Force on actions taken to regain public trust – it wasn’t long ago that the police were featured in Hong Kong films as the good guys, precisely because people could relate to that narrative.

The onus is undoubtedly on police, but people could also give them a chance to make their case.

 Jose Alvares, Macau