The Legislative Council Panel on Security has passed a motion condemning protesters’ acts of violence against law enforcement officers and journalists in the wake of the unrest in Mong Kok lask week. The motion also backed the police in their efforts to enforce the law and called for the police force to receive more gear and manpower. However, a motion to set up an independent inquiry commission into the clashes was voted down.

Violent scenes between protesters and police broke out in Mong Kok last Monday over anger at the government’s attempts to remove street hawkers.

Elizabeth Quat. File photo: Wikicommons.

The motion was raised by Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) lawmaker Elizabeth Quat during a special LegCo security panel meeting on the Mong Kok unrest on Tuesday, RTHK reported.

Mask ban

Earlier at the meeting, Quat said that throwing bricks was equivalent to murder and that the incident reflected the need for the government to adopt new measures and laws targeted at “riots”; she also suggested banning protesters from wearing masks. The issue of masked protesters was also raised by the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions’ Wong Kwok-hing as well, Ming Pao reported.

The DAB’s Chris Chung said the protesters had “done it all – killing and setting things on fire”, and asked pro-democracy lawmakers whether they had “their conscience stolen by a dog”, as none of them offered their sympathies to the injured police officers and journalists.

No deaths were reported during the unrest.

Lai Tung-kwok. File Photo: Stand News.

Lai said that he was very concerned about the problem of masks, adding that HongKongers used to protest in an honourable manner, but a small group of them now wore masks. Lai said he believed those masked protesters had been meticulously planning the “illegal activities” and urged the police to enforce the law strictly.

‘Peace and rationality’ 

According to Lai, at the height of the protests there were 700 protesters on 14 different streets, and around 2,000 bricks had been uprooted from the ground. Over 90 police officers were injured, and 68 protesters were arrested, with 41 of them facing charges.

“Hongkongers love peace and rationality, they definitely do not agree with these violent acts, or downplaying them with excuses such as street hawker problems or dissatisfaction with the administration,” Lai said. However, the Civic Party’s Claudia Mo criticised Lai’s “feel-good, self-centred” comments and said he did not mention the fact that police officers had been accused of assaulting reporters.

Photo: Kris Cheng, HKFP.

League of Social Democrat lawmaker “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung proposed setting up an independent inquiry commission to investigate the incident, but the motion was voted down.

See also: Full coverage of the Mong Kok clashes.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.