Police Commissioner Lo Wai-chung has expressed his sadness after seven officers were convicted for assaulting activist Ken Tsang during the 2014 pro-democracy Occupy protests.
The letter to his police colleagues came two days before the sentences for the seven police officers are due to be handed down, on Friday. It was the first time Lo responded to the judgment.
“I and the management understand the worries and disappointment of colleagues,” he wrote.
“However, Hong Kong is a place of the rule of law, there is an appeal mechanism in the judicial system,” he said.
Lo said that the management will keep in close contact with staff associations, and the personnel department will be communicating with the seven families “to do their best to provide them with all possible assistance.”
“I understand that in the past few years colleagues have had to bear the duty of maintaining law and order in a chaotic environment, that you are all under pressure,” he wrote. “The Hong Kong Police is a law enforcement team of professional standard and trusted by the public.”
“In this difficult time, I hope colleagues can work together, adhere strictly to your positions, to continue making the Hong Kong Police an excellent and united team.”
It is expected that the seven will lodge an appeal after the sentences are handed down.
Civic Party lawmaker Alvin Yeung told Apple Daily that he understood that Lo has to comfort his colleagues, but mentioning the possibility of an appeal in the letter made people feel as “if he is unwilling to accept the result, or thinks the court made a wrong judgment.”
Yeung said he would not speculate as to whether the police will assist the seven in appealing, but he said that Lo’s comments did not help in fixing the relationship between the public and the police.
Democratic Party lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting said Lo did not mention in the letter that the police also have to abide by the law.
“It was only aimed at maintaining internal morale… the illegal acts of the officers were very unsatisfactory,” he said.
Chung Kim-wah, an assistant professor of social policy at the Polytechnic University, said the first thing Lo should have done was to apologise on behalf of the police.
“The harm has been done, the relationship between police and the public can hardly be as smooth as the past. It may take another 20, 30 years to fix this,” he said.