Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah was praised by callers to a phone-in on Thursday morning for acknowledging that the government has to shoulder some responsibility and deal with problems in society. However, referring to the Mong Kok unrest earlier this month, Tsang also said that history has shown that violent behaviour cannot reform the system or improve society.
During his budget speech on Wednesday morning, Tsang mentioned the violent protest that broke out in Mong Kok earlier this month over the government’s clearing of street hawkers, saying: “A handful of people lost their rationality and attacked the police officers and reporters that were present, provoking a large-scale riot and causing dozens of injuries… Distressed and angry, I was perplexed as to why violence had flared in Hong Kong.”
At a press conference on Wednesday, Tsang said that the government cannot shirk its responsibilities, and that many problems that are grounded in the economy and in society require some time before they can be solved, Apple Daily reported. “There’s not a silver bullet we can find in the world that will solve the problem right away with a single shot,” he said.
However, at the phone-in he made clear that “It is not enough for the government to put in effort.” He said there have been many cases throughout history which showed that violent behaviour cannot lead to reforms in the system or improve society. He also urged everyone not to encourage these “so-called valiant acts”, stressing that Hongkongers do not see this as acceptable behaviour.
Tsang had said earlier on Wednesday that the protesters had called their behaviour on the night of the Mong Kok protest “acts of valiance”, but in fact, he said, it was not valiance but violence. Tsang also said that having witnessed for himself the violent protests in the US in the 70s, he believed that violence was not constructive and cannot reform the system, Ming Pao reported.
Tsang said that he had used many different terms to describe the incident, but he would never call it “valiance”, Stand News reported. “How could it be valiant to wear masks?” he asked. “I hope everyone will stop using the term.”
In response to a caller’s worries that the government’s food truck plan will create more conflicts over the street hawker problem, Tsang said that food trucks and street hawker policies were unrelated. He said that he hoped the food trucks will enhance the appeal of our tourist attractions, although he agreed that it would be a challenge given the geographical conditions of Hong Kong.