Hong Kong’s police chief has slammed criticism of the force’s 25 per cent budget boost and revealed that 21 officers are under internal investigation for alleged misconduct.

Democrats had voiced concern over the HK$25.8 billion boost in manpower and gear listed in the government’s 2020 budget last Wednesday. However, Commissioner of Police Chris Tang said the force needed to add more than 2,500 new personnel in order to ramp up manpower within the Police Tactical Unit, as well as the anti-terrorism unit, based on the social situation.

Chris Tang at Chun Yeung Estate on March 2. Photo: RTHK screenshot.

Tang was meeting the media after inspecting a coronavirus quarantine facility at Chun Yeung Estate in Fo Tan on Monday afternoon.

He said the demands from pro-democracy lawmakers to review the force’s budget separately from the rest of the budget was an act of targeting the police.

“People who intend to break the law, and people who support breaking the law, want to crush the police’s efficiency in enforcing the law,” Tang said.

Police complaints 

As of last week, the police had received 1,639 complaint cases stemming from the pro-democracy protests sparked by a now-withdrawn extradition bill last June, according to Tang.

He said the force has been looking into 21 cases of misconduct of individual officers, including the one who was filmed driving into a crowd of black-clad protesters in Kwai Fong on November 11 last year. Two officers who showed the identification cards of reporters in front of a live-streaming camera were under internal investigation as well.

Tang said the officers involved had been “reprimanded,” while four other cases are in the process of disciplinary review.

The 21 cases did not involve complaints stemming from the mob attack in Yuen Long last July 21, however, in which the police were criticised for failing to failing to make arrests or respond quickly enough to distress calls.

Photo: Screenshot.

Tang said the Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC) has set up an independent investigation, hence the force did not include the relevant cases in their inquiry.

So far, the police have arrested 37 people and charged 7 of them for involvement in the incident.

Dinner comment

Tang was also asked about the dinner party he attended with police-friendly personalities including Jackie Chan, Alan Tam and Eric Tsang on February 16, where he said he “didn’t know how to be a police officer” and he learned “everything” from watching police films. He said the comment was not inappropriate, as it was made in a private setting.

Hong Kong Police chief Chris Tang attended a banquet with pro-police celebrities on February 16. Photo: YouTube screenshot.

“I said something in a humorous and polite way, but some people treated it as a gem, as if they found a major scandal and made a big deal out of it,” he said.

Tang admitted he was not sensitive enough about social distancing, as he went to the dinner party during the coronavirus outbreak, which has killed two men and infected 96 others locally. The Centre for Health Protection had advised against having group meals together during the SARS-like epidemic.

Kelly Ho

Kelly Ho has an interest in local politics, education and sports. She formerly worked at South China Morning Post Young Post, where she specialised in reporting on issues related to Hong Kong youth. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong, with a second major in Politics and Public Administration.