College campuses are by no means ‘lawless frontiers’
Updated: 2019-11-14 07:44
The government on Wednesday reiterated police’s rights to enforce laws on campuses as Hong Kong universities became the maelstrom of violent protests for the second day.
Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu said universities are not safe havens for lawbreakers, and the police are duty-bound to enforce the law on campuses.
Speaking to a news briefing a day after serious clashes broke out between radical protesters and the police at various universities across the city, the city’s security chief said all places in Hong Kong, including universities, are by no means “lawless frontiers”.
He added that the police have a statutory responsibility to take action if there is any unlawful conduct.
The city’s universities have become hotbeds of violence and vandalism since Monday. Radical students on campuses have set fires, vandalized school facilities and made weapons.
According to 50(4) of the Police Force Ordinance, it is lawful for police officers to enter a place and search it to prevent suspects from escaping, even without a warrant.
Universities are places for education and should not become breeding grounds for violence, Lee stressed. He said he hopes all Hong Kong people, especially students, could understand that, and cautioned that “unthinkable” consequences may come if the violence were to continue.
He also said that Hong Kong has been roiled by a fresh round of violent attacks, which were more severe and extensive than before, posing a greater threat to public safety.
On the same day, a police spokesman said universities should not be allowed to become “weapons factories” and “bases for rioters and criminals”.
Rioters hurled more than 400 gasoline bombs on Tuesday, several hundred of which were hurled in the clashes at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said John Tse Chun-chung, chief superintendent of the Police Public Relations Branch, at a news conference.
This is the most serious situation in the past five months, he added.
“Where were all these weapons and petrol bombs from? Where were they made and how were they mobilized within such a short time?” Tse asked.
Tse said police strongly suspect that schools have been used as weapon factories by rioters.
At the CUHK on Wednesday, groups of black-clad radicals were seen producing Molotov cocktails and making arrows with bamboo. Some others set up large self-made slings on the road.
Rioters glorified their behavior and intended to have Hong Kong completely break down, Tse said.
In addition, the only aim of the police’s deployment on the No 2 footbridge of the CUHK was to prevent radicals from throwing debris from the bridge onto the Tolo Highway and safeguard the safety of drivers and passersby, Wong Wai-shun, senior superintendent of the Operations Bureau, said in a response to a question about why police action took place there.
Tolo Highway is a major expressway in the New Territories connecting Sha Tin and Tai Po. The footbridge is above the highway and the East Rail Line’s rail tracks.
The debris thrown by radicals onto the highway could have caused serious traffic accidents or even injures and death, Wong said.
(HK Edition 11/14/2019 page4)