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Opening remarks by Police Chief Superintendent at press conference

     Following are the opening remarks by the Chief Superintendent of Police Public Relations Branch, Mr Hui Chun-tak, at the press conference today (October 29):
     In the past few days, Police have repeatedly expressed our concerns over the open defiance of court Injunction Order and the prolonged illegal occupation of roads.  The Hong Kong Bar Association released a statement yesterday to express their dismay about recent calls for open disobedience of injunctions granted by the Court in relation to the occupation of certain areas in Mong Kok and Admiralty.  The Association stated that, while judgment is pending as to whether the injunction shall be continued or discharged, members of the public shall obey the injunction before or until an order is set aside.  Open defiance of court order erodes the rule of law and would drag our society into a sense of lawlessness and this has gone beyond reasonable tolerance of the society.
     In fact, the continuous illegal occupation and blockage of roads across the territory poses severe threat to our most treasured value of the rule of law.  The current deliberate disobedience of court order further undermines the rule of law creating an unimaginable impact upon our society.  No one shall go above the rule of law irrespective of the grounds.  The public in general will suffer if the rule of law is hampered.
     Some believe that further academic discussion is required to ascertain the relationship between the current civil disobedience and the rule of law. However, I must point out that the prolonged occupation and blockage of roads is obviously unlawful.  There is no reason or excuse which could justify the violation of a court order, which in reality adversely affects the rule of law.  There is no doubt that the daily lives and livelihood of the citizens are really affected in the past month.  The general public are forced to endure different degree of interference arising from the illegal occupation.  They also have to unnecessarily bear the risk of confrontations and crimes that are associated with the illegal road blockages across the territory.  There should be a prompt end to all the illegal occupations.  I urge the initiators and organizers of the occupy movement to demonstrate their courage in taking up responsibility and to show respect to the rule of law, by calling an end to the illegal occupation.
     Recently, representatives of different sectors of the community, including government officials, vice chancellors, religious leaders, people from different professions, retired judge and academia have invariably issued appeals to persuade the illegal occupiers to leave.  As some had already pointed out, the illegal occupation of roads has lost its focus as it drags on indefinitely.
     Irrespective of whatever excuses that the protestors put up, it is evident that the actual events taking place in the illegally occupied areas have deviated from the original ¡®peace and non-violence¡¯ principle as initially proclaimed by the event organizers.  There were activities which do not seem to be relevant to their cause at all.  
     Meanwhile, the many temporary structures and large-scale barricades are in fact posing significant threat to public safety.  The illegal occupation of roads by the protestors, in pursuing their goals and expressing their discontentment, has unfairly harmed the livelihood of citizens who have to bear with the hardship and adverse consequence.  The general public will neither accept nor agree to the indefinite illegal occupation of roads in Hong Kong.  
     In the past few days, although there appears to be no large-scale confrontation in the illegally occupied area in Mong Kok, there were still daily occurrences of crimes and incidents in the area.  Yesterday, there was a glass bottle dropped from height in Mong Kok.  There were a number of assaults arising from disputes amongst citizens holding different opinions in the past.  Yesterday, Police arrested a 50-year-old man for common assault which happened on October 15.  
     I would like to remind everyone that there maybe people with polarized views in the illegally occupied areas and in other public events.  They are prone to disputes, which could easily develop into scuffles and physical confrontations.  Police are concerned of the situation and we urge the protestors to remain calm and peaceful in expressing their opinions and should under no circumstances resort to violence.  
     Since September 26, Police have arrested 310 persons, including 265 males and 45 females, for offences including unlawful assembly, disorderly conduct in public place, assaults, criminal damage, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, resisting arrest, assaulting police officer and obstructing police officer.  A total of 64 police officers, including 63 male officers and one female officer, were injured.
     Police reiterate that it is our duty to maintain law and order and to safeguard public safety and public order.  The Hong Kong Police Force is a professional and responsible law enforcement agency and will continue to carry out our duties in a fair and impartial manner in accordance with the laws of Hong Kong.  We have been adopting a very tolerant and restrained approach in handling the protestors illegally occupying the roads.  We do not want to see injuries to illegal occupiers, in particular students, the general public as well as our officers in the field as a result of large-scale confrontations.
     Lastly, I must make it clear that the endless illegal assembly and occupation of roads have created significant adverse impact on the daily lives of our citizens. The public peace and public order have been disrupted and the rule of law undermined.  I urge the illegal road occupiers to respect the rights and the greater interests of the general public and in respecting the rule of law, they should remove the road obstacles and leave peacefully, so that the normal traffic can resume and public order restored.

Ends/Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Issued at HKT 19:34


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