Former British home secretary Robert Peel, credited as the father of modern policing, in 1829 established the Metropolitan Police, the world’s first professional police force.
In a force made up of ordinary citizens, police officers nicknamed “bobbies” were expected to adhere to the “Peelian principles,” often summarized as “policing by consent.” This meant that rather than using fear on the streets of London, “bobbies” had to secure and maintain the approval, respect and affection of the public, an ethos that is still followed. The Hong Kong Police Force of old, modeled on Britain’s police force, once adhered to these principles and was considered “Asia’s finest.”
Unfortunately, the latest violent clashes at the Hong Kong MTR’s Prince Edward Station on Saturday evening provide further evidence that Hong Kong police are increasingly using disproportionate violence to quell the unrelenting protest movement that has engulfed the former British colony.
Protesters on Saturday went ahead with a rally in defiance of the police.
A video uploaded to YouTube shows dozens of riot police sprinting down the platform at Prince Edward Station in pursuit of what appears to be a lone protester before tackling him to the ground. Officers then converge on a stationary train, pointing a tear gas gun through the open doors before storming carriages and, seemingly at random, spraying passengers with pepper spray and beating them with batons. A group of passengers is seen huddling in a corner, trying to shield themselves from the police, terrified and sobbing uncontrollably.
On Sunday, pro-democracy lawmakers held a news conference to condemn the use of extreme force.
Hong Kong Legislator Claudia Mo (毛孟靜) said: “Hong Kong people are now facing licensed terror attacks not just from the police force, but from the Hong Kong government.”
“What happened on an MTR train at Prince Edward Station was blatantly clear through press footage and photos, and police would still dare to deny ... that [they] were beating up ordinary citizens indiscriminately,” Mo said.
Civic Party Legislator Kwok Ka-ki (郭家麒) accused the police of “shameless behavior unbefitting of monsters.”
Such extreme levels of force being employed by police anywhere in Hong Kong, let alone within its safe and efficient metro rail system, would have seemed unthinkable just a few months ago.
Regrettably, Saturday evening’s carnage was not the first time Hong Kong police have used excessive force in the past few weeks. It follows multiple instances of officers firing rubber bullets, beanbag rounds and tear gas canisters at close range and at head height, targeting protesters.
In one particularly egregious example, a young woman was reportedly hit in the eye with a beanbag round at an anti-government protest outside Tsim Sha Tsui Police Station on Aug. 11. She is still receiving treatment to her shattered right eye, which could be irrecoverably damaged.
Hong Kong police increasingly look and act like a paramilitary outfit. Many officers wear olive-colored, army-style fatigues, instead of blue or black uniforms. The police regularly refuse to grant permission for rallies and last week conducted a dragnet operation, arresting many former student leaders of the 2014 “Umbrella movement” and other high-profile democracy advocates on trumped-up charges.
Following the events of the past few months, many Hong Kongers are understandably questioning whether Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥), who has repeatedly refused to condemn excessive force, has lost control not just of the Hong Kong Police Force, but effectively relinquished control of the territory’s governance to Beijing.
Chinese strongman Xi Jinping (習近平) hasn’t had a very good spring, either economically or politically. Not that long ago, he seemed to be riding high. The PRC economy had been on a long winning streak of more than six percent annual growth, catapulting the world’s most populous nation into the second-largest power, behind only the United States. Hundreds of millions had been brought out of poverty. Beijing’s military too had emerged as the most powerful in Asia, lagging only behind the US, the long-time leader on the global stage. One can attribute much of the recent downturn to the international economic
On Sept. 27, 2002, the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste (East Timor) joined the UN to become its 191st member. Since then, two other nations have joined, Montenegro on June 28, 2006, and South Sudan on July 14, 2011. The combined total of the populations of these three nations is just more than half that of Taiwan’s 23.7 million people. East Timor has 1.3 million, Montenegro has slightly more than half a million and South Sudan has 10.9 million. They all are members of the UN, yet much more populous Taiwan is denied membership. Of the three, East Timor, as a Southeast Asian
Taiwan has for decades singlehandedly borne the brunt of a revanchist, ultra-nationalist China — until now. Ever since Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had the temerity to call for a transparent, international investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, Beijing has been turning the screws on Canberra. This has included unleashing aggressive “wolf warrior” diplomats to intimidate Australian policymakers, enacting punitive tariffs on its exports, and threatening an embargo on Chinese tourists and students to the nation. A tense situation became more serious on June 19 after Morrison revealed that a “sophisticated state-based actor” — read: China — had launched a
Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) is to be Taiwan’s next representative to the US. Hsiao is well versed in international affairs and Taiwan-US relations. In her days as a student in the US, she was a member of the Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA) and served as chief executive of the Democratic Progressive Party’s US mission. She is familiar with a broad spectrum of Taiwanese affairs in the US. FAPA hopes that Hsiao, after taking up her new post, would continue to deepen and normalize relations between Taiwan and the US, and that she would try to get a free-trade agreement