How Hong Kong police can emerge stronger from protests fire: regain public trust with full, open inquiry

First published: 18th November 2019

This open letter was published in the South China Morning Post

I am writing to praise the police for their prompt action in suspending the officer who drove his motorbike into a crowd of protesters multiple times. This must be followed up by a full, impartial investigation into the incident.

Public trust in the police has suffered greatly in recent months, and this feels like the first time police have allowed for the possibility that an officer might have overstepped the mark. This could be the first step towards rebuilding trust and confidence in the police, if it is followed by suspensions of officers involved in other controversial incidents.

It is important the public believe that officers know what minimal force is. It is essential that the police do not deploy lethal force against unarmed people, that they know and adhere to the minimum range, acceptable target and indoor-use restrictions on less-lethal weapons, that they know the difference between a verbal argument and physical or chemical assault, that they understand their oath to serve “without fear of or favour to any person and with malice or ill will toward none” and that their spokespeople do not lie or mislead the press and public in press conferences.

Instead, there is credible video evidence to the contrary. Only a full, impartial investigation can determine the facts. Officers who are exonerated can be reinstated into a police force that can regain public trust.

It is not just the police who must work on regaining the public trust, the government must too. The nearly 2 million people who peacefully marched at the start of this conflict have not disappeared. Some of them may have turned more radical when the government turned a deaf ear to reason; most are probably quietly horrified by the increasing violence Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has allowed, or even encouraged, by her missteps and lack of concernfor ordinary people.

She must reach out to them and understand their concerns. Her dialogue forum was a reasonable start, but turned into a disaster when people lost their jobs after speaking, so her next attempt will be more difficult. It is still necessary.

Allan Dyer
voter in the Hong Kong Island and IT Constituencies

Updated: 02nd December 2019

According to the Hong Kong Free Press, the officer who drove his motorbike into a crowd of protesters multiple times has been reinstated before the investigation into the incident is complete.

The new Commissioner of Police, Chris Tang, rejects the idea of a Commission of Inquiry, and even wants to prevent the proposed "review committee" from looking at the Police. Does he fear what a review or inquiry would reveal?

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