The chair of a Hong Kong police group has condemned two lawmakers, accusing them of blocking officers from clearing protesters in Mong Kok on Sunday.
Lam Chi-wai, chair of the Junior Police Officers’ Association, wrote to Legislative Council President Andrew Leung on Monday saying that the association was disappointed and angered by the actions of democrats Jeremy Tam and Au Nok-hin.
“[They] intentionally stayed in front of police defence lines to block police from pushing in and clearing the scene,” Lam wrote.
A peaceful march from Salisbury Garden in Tsim Sha Tsui to the West Kowloon high-speed rail station on Sunday reiterated five key demands, including a complete withdrawal of the extradition bill, universal suffrage and for charges against protesters to be dropped. Following the rally, hundreds of people headed north into Mong Kok along Nathan Road, bringing traffic to a halt.
Lam wrote that Tam and Au claimed they had to stay to protect journalists, but their actions attracted more reporters to cover the incident, making the scene more chaotic. Lam also claimed Tam responded rudely to police requests for him to leave.
Lam accused lawmakers of abusing their role to block police from exercising their duties, ever since the clashes between protesters and police on June 9.
“These lawmakers intentionally challenged front line police officers exercising their duties for their own personal platforms and political interests, [they] incited anti-police emotions of those on the scene and people in society,” Lam wrote.
Lam asked the LegCo president to urge lawmakers to stop doing so.
Tam said in response that section 8 of the Police Force Ordinance prohibited any police officer from being a member of a trade union, and the four existing police associations should only offer advice on welfare and conditions of services to the police chief, in accordance with the law.
“Police officers using the association to make political comments is a violation of the Police Force Ordinance,” Tam said.
Tam said he will ask the Civil Service Bureau to demand that the police force remain politically neutral.
He also said the LegCo president had no right to handle complaints against lawmakers outside of the legislature.
Au said in response that he did not regret his actions. He said when police took clearance actions, protesters had left and police officers still pushed towards journalists.
“The association criticised lawmakers for refusing to leave, but it did not reflect on the use of force, making their colleagues’ image even uglier,” Au said.
Au said officers failed to wear their police identity cards, and almost caused a stampede when they chased after protesters.
“Is it the association’s opinion that the police behaviour that night was very much responsible?” Au said.