The head of the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department has said he was “furious,” after three inspectors were arrested at Wednesday’s protest in opposition to the newly-enforced national security law.

HKFP has learned that the three inspectors will be suspended following their arrests, which were unrelated to the new legislation that criminalises secession, subversion, terrorist acts and collusion with foreign forces.

Police detain at people at Times Square in Causeway Bay on July 1, 2020. File photo: May James/HKFP.

Local media reported they were arrested for allegedly participating in an unlawful assembly, but the department did not confirm in their response to HKFP. Its Commissioner Hermes Tang said the department would not tolerate any illegal acts and disciplinary offences, adding such behaviour would be handled seriously.

“All personnel must abide by the law and fully support and cooperate with the HKSAR and police work in stopping violence and curbing disorder,” the department said in an email reply on Thursday.

Commissioner of Customs and Excise Hermes Tang. Photo: GovHK.

As Hong Kong marked 23 years since its handover to China on July 1, thousands of Hongkongers took to the streets in Causeway Bay and Wan Chai in defiance of a police ban.

The force deployed water cannon, tear gas, pepper spray and pepper balls to disperse crowds. They arrested around 370 people as of 10 pm on Wednesday, among which 10 were in connection with violation of the national security law.

Some of the apprehended persons possessed and displayed flags, banners and posters that featured slogans such as “Hong Kong independence,” “One nation, one Hong Kong” and “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times.”

Police also condemned “violent acts” by “rioters” after an officer was stabbed by a male protester and three other officers were injured in an alleged motorbike-ramming incident.

The government issued a statement during early hours on Thursday to “highly commend” and “fully support” police enforcement actions. The spokesperson said people who waved flags and had printed materials with the words “Hong Kong independence,” and chanted slogans containing such words were suspected of “inciting or abetting others to commit secession.”

“The government spokesman severely condemns such acts which publicly challenged the bottom line of the Central People’s Government and the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region,” the statement read.

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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.