Pro-Beijing firebrand Junius Ho has called for a temporary ban on protests in Hong Kong, claiming that his pro-democracy rivals were behind the latest violent incidents that rocked the city over the weekend.
Ho made his comments on an RTHK televised forum on Tuesday, before calling democrat Eddie Chu “scum” and storming off the set.
The democrats were “teaming up with rioters dressed in black,” Ho claimed: “Shouldn’t we pause and think, and put a stop to all of these so-called peaceful protests?”
A vocal advocate for the pro-Beijing camp, Ho was embroiled in controversy again on Sunday night after he shook hands with a group of people allegedly involved in the mob attacks in Yuen Long.
That night, a group of armed assailants battered residents, journalists and a lawmaker, resulting in 45 injuries. Police arrested six people, some of whom had connections to local triads.
Ho condemned the attacks and denied having any involvement, but he expressed sympathy for Yuen Long residents who wished to “protect their homeland.”
Asked if he regretted shaking hands with the people in white clothes, Ho said he “never regretted shaking hands with anyone,” adding that the gesture should not be understood as an endorsement.
“Why would I want to cut ties with the people dressed in white? You’re dressed in white as well,” he told a reporter. “But we will not condone any lawbreakers.”
At a press conference on Monday, Ho said that the events of the video took place as he walking in Yuen Long after dinner. It was “natural” for him to appear in the neighborhood because he lived there, he said.
He said that the actions of the assailants, while wrong, could be “pardoned.”
Ho said the public should focus on the pro-democracy protesters – commonly dressed in black – who he said instigated the violence in Yuen Long.
“When they intentionally provoke and storm a peaceful, harmonious community, it is very normal for residents to have a reaction,” he said.
Near the end of the RTHK forum on Tuesday, Ho grabbed lawmaker Chu’s shoulder and asked him to look into the camera and denounce protesters seeking to “reclaim” the various districts. Ho said Chu was “scum” and “did not deserve to be a lawmaker,” before storming off stage.
Backlash against Ho
Since Sunday, Ho has become a target of widespread public condemnation: a petition started by students, teacher and alumni of Queen’s College – Ho’s alma mater – drew over 2,300 signatories as of Tuesday.
Students from Lingnan University also started a petition calling for Ho to be dismissed from the university’s governing council over his remarks. A Lingnan spokesperson said that Ho’s comments did not represent the views of the university, and that he was speaking in a personal capacity.
Meanwhile, another petition drew over 100,000 signatures asking that Ho and his family members be barred from entering the United States, or gaining US citizenship. Ho told reporters he had no US passport and had no plans to apply for one.
On Monday afternoon, Ho’s office in Tsuen Wan was trashed by protesters who were dissatisfied with his response to the Yuen Long attacks.
Another protest took place at Ho’s Tuen Mun office on Tuesday afternoon.
At around the same time, the graves of Ho’s parents were damaged by unknown people, who spray-painted “fuck” on both gravestones, as well as “collusion of government and triads” on a wall.
A group of people from the horse-racing industry also called on the Jockey Club to cancel Ho’s membership, and to permanently retire his horse “Hong Kong Bet.”
As one of the most outspoken lawmakers of the pro-Beijing camp, Ho was criticised in 2017 after calling for pro-independence activists to be “killed without mercy.” He later said that he chose the wrong words and did not mean to advocate murder.