Hong Kong police

Police union hits back over Hong Kong development minister’s remarks that officers ‘are not always the good guys’

Michael Wong made the remarks at the Hong Kong Book Fair last Thursday

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 26 July, 2018, 1:12pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 July, 2018, 11:28pm

Hong Kong’s biggest police union has slammed the city’s development minister over his public remarks that “not all police officers are the good guys”.

The chairman of the Junior Police Officers’ Association, which represents two-thirds of the 30,000-strong force in Hong Kong, said Michael Wong Wai-lun’s remarks had sparked an uproar and hurt police morale.

Lam Chi-wai revealed the contents of the letter on Thursday, a day after it was sent to the minister.

“The association expresses deep regret over the minister’s remarks. The comments could mislead members of public to believe the minister intended to criticise police officers,” the letter read. “This has deeply hurt the officers’ confidence.”

Several hours after the matter was exposed, Wong replied to the association in a letter saying he felt a sense of “unease” at how his views had caused concern, but stopped short of an apology. He said he could have used a better choice of words.

“It was not my intention to offend or to target Hong Kong Police Force and its dutiful police officers,” Wong wrote.

The force has faced an integrity crisis with a rising number of arrests in its ranks this year.

The police’s director of operations, Chris Tang Ping-keung, revealed on Wednesday that 24 officers were arrested in the first half of the year, compared with only 13 in the same period of 2017.

This meant an average of one officer a week was arrested in Hong Kong in 2018.

Earlier in July, another five anti-triad officers were arrested over a staged crime scene.

Tang said the force was distressed over the increasing number of arrests and vowed zero tolerance for any misconduct by officers.

Wong, who was deputy security minister between 2001 and 2006, made the remarks last Thursday at a sharing session with young people at the Hong Kong Book Fair.

Touching on social problems, he quoted from a mystery novel by famous Japanese author Keigo Higashino and said: “Criminals are not necessarily all bad guys – there are many objective factors behind a crime or reasons to be sympathetic. Likewise, not each and every cop is a good guy.”

Wong said he liked the point made by Higashino as it was very realistic.

The association said the analogy was inappropriate and urged the minister to clarify his remarks to ease officers’ concerns.

“Words are mightier than swords, even more so when they come from a government minister,” the association statement said.

Wong later explained that he meant to express how humanity was complex in nature, and that people should show more forgiveness and tolerance.