• jeremiahbull

Are protests on the right track? 抗議活動是否納入正軌?

Updated: Apr 19, 2020


(Please scroll down for Chinese translation 繁体中文请往下滑).


Why have protesters targeted the MTR?

If you had been to Hong Kong and used the MTR before the pro-democracy demonstrations began in June you will understand that the SAR’s public rail is quite special. The MTR corporation is 75% government owned, and besides its rail network it also operates shopping malls and associated residential, office and retail space. The MTR is run as a private monopolistic business entity, yet with the government as its major shareholder it is able to manipulate its business and impact both the Hong Kong property market and the wider economy. This in turn has a strong effect on the lives of ordinary Hong Kong citizens and shows that despite claims the SAR operates on the principles of laissez-faire, the facts prove otherwise.


As far back as August of 2019 there was suspicion that the MTR, was somehow colluding with either the police or the government to suppress protests. While station closures and service suspensions were ostensibly meant to protect staff and passengers, it came at great cost for both the MTR company, the general public and the SAR as a whole.


Certain MTR stations have become flashpoints for the social movement, in recognition of events that occurred there. On July 21 At Yuen Long, for instance, a group of men wearing white tee-shirts attacked commuters, bystanders and protesters with bamboo canes, wooden rods and steel bars leaving at least 45 people hospitalised or injured. Another, more serious flashpoint for the movement occurred at Prince Edward Station on 31st August when Police rampaged through the station and into train carriages in the pursuit of protesters making their way home after a demonstration. Since many MTR stations are connected to shopping malls, even they have become the focus of protester and police action. In one nasty incident at a New Territories shopping mall operated by Sun Hung Kai Properties in Sha Tin, Police cornered retreating protesters inside the facility. Shoppers and business people were shocked by the violence that ensued and complaints after the event raised concerns about violations of Police General orders, false imprisonment, and inadequate communication.


Sometimes protesters have stood in carriage doorways to prevent trains doors closing and cause delays. At other times they have taken out their grievances with MTR staff, but as demonstrations have escalated some protesters have more commonly taken to vandalising the MTR signage, the ticketing machines, and turnstyles. The damage week after week has been cumulative, and the MTR has complained about the cost of repairs and the impact on staff morale.


After Oct 1st, when China celebrated its anniversary, Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced a controversial ban on the wearing of face masks, and this lead to a very strong backlash with demonstrations erupting spontaneously in many parts of the SAR. The result was that the MTR service finally shut down completely over the long holiday weekend. While it was claimed that repairs needed to be carried out at many stations, it made it more difficult for coordinated protest actions to occur, hampered people’s travel plans, and caused many businesses to suffer further financial loss. For many days after that the MTR effectively imposed a further curfew by stealth, closing down every day at 10.00pm instead of the usual midnight closing time.


One of the questions arising from some protest actions is what constitutes public or private space? Can Police enter or search the grounds of a university, for example? Certain open spaces and access ways in Hong Kong are by agreement managed privately, yet owned publicly. Some developers have won concessions from government by including public spaces in their buildings, but independent agencies have found many flaws in this arrangement. Public access can so easily be blocked or restricted. There is little enforcement of the negotiated arrangements, and when the legal grey area is exploited it is the public who are on the losing side.


Monday 7th October was the end of a long holiday weekend marking the local Chung Yeung Festival. There had been a number of protest actions across the SAR, but in Ma On Shan riot Police forced their way into a shopping mall owned and operated privately by the developer 'Henderson Land'. In the days following the incident the security guards at the MOST Mall were arrested for obstruction of the Police. Hong Kongers were left wondering what right the Police have to barge into private property. Police have argued that they did not need a search warrant since they had reason to believe that criminals were inside the premises. Other legal opinion suggests that the Police can only enter a private property to pursue known suspects.


This seems to be a legal grey area, where Police procedures and aspects of law need to work in tandem. What society is witnessing now is rather like the frayed edge of torn fabric. It’s where the pecuniary aims of business, the personal needs of society and the practicalities of government and policing collide. The protesters are right to be unhappy that their tax money is being used against them and there is little or no transparency or accountability. With a huge number of prosecutions to be processed related to the protests, I can foresee a busy time ahead for those in the legal profession.


Jeremiah B. and Pepe

抗議活動是否納入正軌?


如果您去過香港並在6月的民主抗議示威活動開始之前使用了地鐵,您將了解到特區的公共鐵路 非常特別。地鐵公司75%是政府所有的,除鐵路網外,它還經營購物中心以及相關的住宅,辦公室和零售場所。地鐵公司是一家私營的壟斷性商業實體,但以政府為主要股東,它能夠操縱其業務並影響香港房地產市場和整個經濟。反過來,這對香港普通市民的生活產生了重大影響,表明儘管特區主張自由放任原則,但事實卻相反。


早在2019年8月,就有人懷疑地鐵在某種程度上與警察或政府勾結以鎮壓抗議活動 車站關閉 和服務暫停錶面上是為了保護工作人員和乘客,但對地鐵公司,公眾和整個特區來說都付出了巨大的代價。


認識到那裡發生的事件,某些地鐵站已成為社交運動的爆發點。例如,在7月21日,在元朗,一群穿著白色T恤的男人用竹棍,木棍和鐵棍襲擊通勤者,旁觀者和抗議者,使至少45人住院或受傷。另一個更嚴重的運動發生在8月31日的愛德華王子車站,當時警察橫衝直撞穿過車站進入火車車廂,以追捕示威者後示威者回家。由於許多地鐵站都與大型購物中心相連,因此即使它們成為抗議者和警察行動 的焦點。在沙田新鴻基地產經營的新界商場發生的一起令人討厭的事件中,警方在設施內對撤退的示威者 進行了圍困。購物者和商人對事件產生的暴力和投訴感到震驚,因為事件引起了人們對違反警察總法令,錯誤監禁和溝通不足的擔憂。


有時,抗議者站在車廂門口,以防止車門關閉並造成延誤。在其他時候,他們對地鐵公司的工作人員 表示不滿,但隨著示威活動的升級,一些抗議者更加普遍地破壞了地鐵的標牌,售票機和收費站。一周又一周的損失是累積的,地鐵公司抱怨維修費用 及其對員工士氣的影響。


10月1日,當中國慶祝其周年紀念日後,行政長官林鄭月娥(Carrie Lam)宣布禁止佩戴口罩,這引起了強烈反響,在特區的許多地方 自發爆發了示威遊行。結果是,在漫長的假期週末,地鐵服務最終完全關閉。升級後,需要在許多站點進行維修,但是這使得協調抗議行動變得更加困難,阻礙了人們的旅行計劃,並使許多企業蒙受進一步的經濟損失。在此之後的許多天裡,MTR通過隱身有效地實行了進一步的宵禁,每天關閉時間為每天晚上10:00,而不是通常的午夜關閉時間。


一些抗議活動引起的問題之一是什麼構成公共或私人空間?例如,警察可以進入或搜查大學嗎?香港的某些休憩用地和通道均由協議私有管理,但屬公有。一些開發商通過將公共空間納入建築物而贏得了政府的讓步,但獨立機構發現這種安排存在許多缺陷 。可以很容易地阻止或限制公共訪問。談判註冊的執行幾乎沒有,而在利用法律灰色地帶的時候,公眾卻是輸家。


10月7日星期一是一個漫長的假期週末的結束,標誌著當地的重陽節。特區各地發生了許多抗議活動,但在馬鞍山暴動中,警察強迫他們進入由開發商“恆基兆業”(Henderson Land)私人擁有和經營的購物中心。事件發生後的幾天,MOST購物中心的保安人員因妨礙警察被捕。令香港人感到疑惑的是,警察有什麼權利闖入私人財產。警方辯稱,他們不需要搜查令,因為他們有理由相信罪犯在房屋內。其他法律意見表明,警察只能進入私人場所追捕已知嫌疑犯。


這似乎是法律上的灰色地帶,警察程序和法律方面 需要協同工作。社會現在所看到的就像撕裂的織物邊緣一樣。考慮一下企業的金錢目標,社會的個人需求以及政府和警務實踐的衝突。抗議者對自己的稅金被用來對他們感到不滿,並且幾乎沒有透明度或沒有問責制,這是不對的。在處理與抗議有關的大量起訴 後,我可以預見律師行業的忙碌時刻。


Jeremiah B. & Pepe

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