Pro-Beijing lawmakers have urged the government to enact an emergency law and set up special courts to handle the ongoing protests.
Tuesday saw citywide unrest erupt on the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China. Hong Kong police fired at least six live rounds, including five warning shots across different districts and one round at an 18-year-old student in Tsuen Wan. He was in a stable condition after surgery on his left lung.
Speaking in Beijing after attending National Day celebrations, lawmaker Gary Chan of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong said the officer had to shoot the student because he was under attack.
“It was a reasonable and legal action in line with regulations,” he said.
Chan added than an increase in the level of protester violence had placed huge pressure on front line police officers.
“The government should consider enacting an emergency law to stop the riots as soon as possible,” he said.
Lawmaker Priscilla Leung of the Business and Professionals Alliance said the government should consider using all legal means.
“The Hong Kong government should consider setting up special courts,” she said.
Leung cited the UK as an example of a country that set up special courts to increase the prosecution rates to more than 1,000 people within weeks after mass unrest in 2011. However, she appeared to be referring to regular court sessions that sat for longer, as no special arrangement was made in the wake of the UK unrest.
She said more resources should be given to the Department of Justice and the police to speed up the process.
“Justice delayed is justice denied. We hope Hong Kong will to return to a rule of law society, which will give freedom and tranquillity back to Hong Kong residents,” she added.
She also said the pro-Beijing camp would not agree to an independent commission of inquiry if its role is to solely investigate police wrongdoings, but they would support an investigation into the cause of the protests.
The city has seen over 17 consecutive weeks of protest sparked by an ill-fated extradition bill which would have enabled fugitive transfers to China. Pro-Beijing parties have been widely criticised by protesters for initially supporting the proposed law before its withdrawal announcement.
Lawmaker Wong Kwok-kin of the Federation of Trade Unions said seven offices belonging to their district councillors and lawmakers were damaged on Tuesday.
“It made us believe that it was a political attack. It made us wonder whether it was directly related to the District Council election in November. We urge the Hong Kong government to propose feasible ways to ensure the November election will be conducted in a fair and reasonable manner,” he said.
He added that protesters might scare off voters by merely appearing at polling stations.
The Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce condemned Tuesday’s unrest as grave violence and vandalism.
“Many shops, restaurants and businesses were targeted by extremists and vandalized, while thousands of others were forced to close,” it said.
“Extremists’ chilling disregard for the rule of law is not only affecting Hong Kong’s reputation as an international financial and business centre, but also crippling many small businesses and threatening the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of ordinary citizens,” it added.
“As violence continues with each passing week, the more damage is done to our society, our peaceful way of life, and the future of all Hong Kongers. We urge everyone to exercise restraint, take a moment to stop and consider what is best for the future of our community, say no to violence and start a peaceful dialogue.”
The government strongly condemned the protests in a statement issued in the early hours of Wednesday.
“The riots in various districts in Hong Kong on October 1 were planned and organised, leading Hong Kong to a chaotic and panic state,” a spokesman said. “This reflects that the nature of the issue has already changed. What… society does not want to see is students being stirred to break the law.”
“We appeal to parents and teachers to advise young children and students not to participate in unauthorised public meetings and processions, and stay away from violence.”
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