Legco election candidates line up to condemn Mong Kok violence amid calls for an explanation from Hong Kong Indigenous
Group led by poll candidate Edward Leung Tin-kei, who was arrested during the riot, should explain themselves, rivals say
Candidates standing in a Legislative Council by-election this month against Edward Leung Tin-kei, one of the alleged rioters arrested by police in Mong Kok, have spoken out on Monday night’s chaos and allegations that the group Leung hails from, Hong Kong Indigenous, was behind the violence.
The by-election, triggered by the resignation last year of Ronny Tong Ka-wah of the Civic Party from his Legco seat for New Territories East, will take place on February 28 with seven candidates including Leung vying for a win.
Writing on his Facebook page, barrister and Civic Party candidate Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu yesterday slammed police for using excessive force against the street hawkers and protesters at the scene.
“The hawkers were only trying to make a bit more money during the Lunar New Year period ... Why did they have to be stamped out?” Yeung wrote. “Many innocent residents were injured by the police. Police also opened fire illegally ... These things are not acceptable under the rule of law.”
READ MORE: Explained: who are Hong Kong Indigenous and what was their role in the Mong Kok protest and riot?
He also said he “disagreed” with the actions of the protesters including their beating of police officers and attacks on journalists.
Holden Chow Ho-ding, vice-chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said he was “saddened” by the incident.
“Such a level of violence is unprecedented in Hong Kong ... It’s outrageous that the mob used bricks and rubbish bins to attack the police,” Chow said. “Leung advocates this kind of method ... so now the public can see what consequences it will lead to.”
Chow, however, declined to comment on how Leung’s arrest might affect the by-election, only saying it was more important at this stage to show concern for police officers and journalists injured.
Another candidate, social worker Nelson Wong Sing-chi, of Third Side, described the riot as “scary”.
“I think some young people were being controlled ... They should come out and apologise,” he said.
Wong believed it was unlikely Leung would withdraw from the by-election because he had not been convicted of any crime, but said Hong Kong Indigenous owed the public an explanation.
“They need to tell the public whether or not they want to destroy Hong Kong’s core values,” Wong said.
Independent candidate Albert Leung Sze-ho said that in his previous meetings with Leung, a student at the University of Hong Kong, he had seemed like “a sensible person” and not a “rioter”.
“I’m not sure how much control Leung had over the situation ... If he incited the violence, then it’s definitely wrong ... But if the other protesters took advantage of the situation, then I would feel sorry for him.”
Sai Kung district councillor Christine Fong Kwok-shan, who will be running as an independent candidate, said on Facebook yesterday that “anyone would feel unhappy” about such a conflict playing out on the streets during the Lunar New Year holiday, and that the government had to confront the atmosphere of polarisation in the community.
“Residents just wanted to try nostalgic snacks. It’s been fine all these years. Why were the police so tense and used pepper spray, and even pulled out a gun? There must be a cause for this incident,” she wrote.
“It’s clear from the camera lens how the young generation are dissatisfied with society.”
Another independent candidate, Lau Chi-shing, could not be reached for comment.
The geographical constituency of New Territories East covers the districts of Sha Tin, Tai Po, North district and Sai Kung and contains around 940,000 voters.
Additional reporting by Allen Au-yeung