Stand up to violence and don’t waver, HK’s former leader Leung Chun-ying urges, insisting that police actions are having effect on protesters

18-Nov-2019 Intellasia | | 9:32 AM Print This Post

Former Hong Kong leader Leung Chun-ying has reportedly urged members of the public not to be cowed by the ongoing violence in the city as he insists police actions have deterred frontline anti-government protesters.

The comments by Leung now a vice-chair of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, the country’s top advisory body were made to a group of 200 Hongkongers in Shanghai and came as pro-Beijing heavyweight Jasper Tsang Yok-sing renewed his calls for the government to pardon some of the protesters who had committed less serious crimes.

Leung told the group on Saturday that society should be “brave enough” to stand up to violence and should not “waver” as he argued it was still more likely “for one to get hit by a car than a violent rioter”.

According to one of those who attended the meeting, he also suggested that the number of frontline protesters had dwindled, proving police’s actions had brought a deterrent effect.

The intensity of clashes between protesters and police has risen. (South China Morning Post)

The intensity of clashes between protesters and police has risen. (South China Morning Post)

Leung’s more hardline approach was in stark contrast to Tsang, who revealed in an interview with French online media outlet Mediapart that he had suggested the government grant an amnesty to protesters arrested for less serious crimes.

But Tsang, president of the Legislative Council between 2008 and 2016, believed the city’s leader was likely to listen to “hardliners” who were against such a proposal.

As one of their five core demands, protesters have called for the unconditional release of those arrested during the anti-government demonstrations, which have gripped the city for more than five months.

“You can’t pardon very serious crimes,” said Tsang, a stalwart of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB), the city’s biggest pro-Beijing party. “But many of those arrested did not commit serious crimes.”

Since June, more than 4,000 people had been arrested in connection with the protests, which were triggered by the now-withdrawn extradition bill and have evolved into a wider anti-government campaign. The intensity of violence in clashes between protesters and police has also risen dramatically.

Under his proposal, Tsang said Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor should draw a deadline after which further violence would not be pardoned.

But the veteran politician said some in the pro-establishment camp were against the idea of an amnesty and believed it would only lead to more violence.

Tsang said he did not agree with the sentiment but that the chief executive “listens to the hardliners”.

Earlier this month, Lam said the government would not grant an amnesty to those who had not yet been prosecuted because it was against the principle of the rule of law.

Her deputy, Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, said the city’s leader could reduce sentences but only after there had been a trial.

“The chief executive cannot order the Department of Justice to prosecute someone, or not prosecute someone,” Cheung said.

In the interview, published on November 5, Tsang also said almost all of the 20 people who attended a recent closed-door meeting at government House, Lam’s official residence, told the chief executive to set up a commission of inquiry another key demand of protesters.

He said the DAB also made the same suggestion to Lam in private, but the party could not “go public with anything they know the government cannot do”.

While Tsang did not elaborate on the scope of the independent probe, protesters have called for police to be investigated for allegedly abusing their power during demonstrations.

Tsang said the chief executive rejected the suggestion, citing resistance from police and the need to maintain morale among officers. Tsang’s office on Sunday acknowledged the authenticity of his comments.


Category: Hong Kong

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