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Friday, October 17, 2014, 08:45

CE reiterates support for police

By China Daily

Hong Kong police have been exercising a high level of restraint seldom found elsewhere — and alleged misconduct by individual officers should not be blown out of proportion, Chief Executive (CE) Leung Chun-ying said on Thursday.

Leung made the remarks at a press briefing at Government House, as pro-establishment members in the Legislative Council (LegCo) endorsed police actions and refuted opposition criticisms.

Citing an example of how tolerant police were, Leung recalled that officers at government headquarters once allowed protesters at the barricades to “inspect” vehicles which delivered meals to the complex.

“I believe few police forces in other places would have been willing to accept such conditions,” Leung said. The exceptional degree of tolerance was used to prevent violent clashes, he reasoned. “They are bearing hardships without complaint.”

The immense challenges have taken an emotional and physical toll on police. But Leung said alleged misconduct by individual officers should be dealt with by established procedures and the law. “I absolutely disagree with politicizing the matter.”

Seven police officers have been suspended from their duties for allegedly beating a protester who poured liquid  onto officers on Wednesday.

But Senior Superintendent Kong Man-keung told a press conference that the “victim”, a member of the opposition Civic Party, had also been charged with assaulting officers, obstructing them in the course of their duties and unlawful assembly.

Kong said police would continue to serve the public with determination and impartiality. Hong Kong police are a professional, law-abiding law enforcement agency. “Police will not tolerate any illegal acts,” he said.

Pro-establishment lawmakers and executive councilors reiterated their endorsement of police during a debate on Thursday. They said this was because police were vital to safeguarding the city’s rule of law. Opposition views on the recent incidents had been biased and unfair.

Starry Lee Wai-king, an executive councilor from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said the unfair smear campaign might dampen police morale. She said society would ultimately suffer if this occurred.

Another Executive Council member, Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung of the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong, credited police with making Hong Kong one of the safest places in the world. He called for more support for police during difficult times.

Yiu Si-wing, a lawmaker representing the tourism sector, expressed appreciation for the professionalism of police in the face of unprecedented protests.

Former security chief Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee condemned fellow opposition lawmakers for overlooking the often unlawful tactics used by some occupiers. She said: “Do these lawmakers have a conscience? Have these scholars studied politics?”

Both Ip and Lee were wary of the protesters’ hostile attitudes toward those of differing opinion, which were inconsistent with democratic values.

Lee said protesters reluctant to listen to opposing views did not deserve to be called “pro-democracy” activists.

An opponent of “Occupy Central”, Robert Chow Yung, also voiced support for police. He warned that if police lose confidence in their own abilities to maintain order then society would suffer.

The government also set itself three goals at the Thursday press conference. These are to resume social order, continue the second stage of public consultations for the 2017 CE election, and have dialogue with different stakeholders.

Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Raymond Tam Chi-yen suggested student leaders could address their aspirations by pursuing electoral changes beyond 2017. But he added that solutions could only stem from a constitutional basis.

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