【明報專訊】FOR TWO DAYS in a row the operation of Hong Kong International Airport was severely disrupted, resulting in the cancellation of hundreds of flights.
Since the outbreak of protests against proposed amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance, the public has gathered at Hong Kong International Airport for the so‑called "Flying with you" rally more than once, explaining to tourists from all over the world the situation of Hong Kong. In stark contrast to the violent clashes in many Hong Kong districts, people gathered at the airport emphasise being "peaceful, rational and non‑violent". Last Friday protesters organised "ten thousand people to pick up passengers" at the airport. The rally was held at the Immigration Hall. In general, neither foreign nor local tourists felt that they were being harassed or hindered. However, following the police‑citizen clash on Sunday, matters took a rapid turn for the worse. Crowds of protesters responded to the call for a rally at the airport to express dissatisfaction with the police, which later turned into an operation to paralyse the airport.
Protesters changed tack and chose to block the Emigration Hall this time, preventing tourists from undergoing security checks for emigration. Some people used baggage trolleys to block lifts and escalators to emigration gates. Some protesters formed human chains to obstruct tourists. Some protesters even told CNN and other foreign news agencies that "we want to paralyse the airport". As the operation of the terminal was severely obstructed, the Airport Authority declared the suspension of flight registration services for two days in a row. Hundreds of flights were cancelled, affecting tens of thousands of tourists. That night protesters surrounded, bound and battered two men from the mainland, and at one point prevented them from being hospitalised. After the police helped rescue the two men, a police‑citizen clash happened. The highly‑charged atmosphere frightened many people at the scene. It has also seriously damaged Hong Kong's image as a safe city for tourists.
Hong Kong International Airport is one of the busiest airports in the world. Nearly 800 flights take off or land on average every day, and last year as many as 74.7 million passengers used the airport. Every day more than two hundred thousand travellers entered or left the airport. Last year it even handled over five million tonnes of freight cargoes, enjoying the status as the busiest airport for cargo for eight years in a row. It is true that the airport suspends operation from time to time during typhoon seasons. But normally it is able to resume operation fully the next day. Hong Kong people take pride in the high efficiency of those working at the airport.
The protests against the amendments have so developed that there is an atmosphere of "mutual destruction" pervading society. On online forums there are netizens who claim that by obstructing the operation of the airport, they can deal a blow to the mainland's revenues generated by virtue of Hong Kong's logistics industry and add to the misery of the mainland economy. Some have even mentioned what happened in Thailand in 2008, when Suvarnabhumi Airport was occupied by the "Yellow Shirts". They say that Hong Kong protesters can draw inspiration from that incident. Though they know very well that such a move will severely affect the Hong Kong economy and people's lives, they insist on crashing and burning together. Such a mindset of "mutual destruction" does no good to society. It will only destroy Hong Kong, and is no less dangerous than violent actions. Everyone in society must say no to violence and "mutual destruction" at the same time. They must stop such "self‑harming" behaviour as soon as possible to prevent inflicting irreparable harm on Hong Kong.
pervade : to spread through and be noticeable in every part of sth
crash and burn : to fail very quickly or suddenly, especially in a dramatic way
irreparable : too bad or too serious to repair or put right