【明報專訊】THE VIOLENT INCIDENTS on Saturday and Sunday completely shattered the atmosphere of "peace, rationality and non‑violence" early last week. It is now a fact that the anti‑amendment storm is increasingly violent. Not only did the violent elements of the protest throw Molotov cocktails, vandalise shops and facilities at the Cross‑Harbour Tunnel, but they also chased after uniformed policemen to hit them with weapons such as iron bars. The police had to shoot skyward as deterrence.
The first shot of live ammunition was fired on Sunday night in the anti‑amendment storm. To put the events in sequence, there were first a bunch of people dressed in black gathered at Yi Pei Square, Tsuen Wan where "attacks by the whites" had happened previously. Some violent people attacked mahjong parlours and amusement arcades nearby. A police van was also under attack after arriving at the scene. Some violent people attacked policemen who were on their own with weapons such as iron bars. Six policemen retreated and drew their guns, and one of them shot upwards as deterrence. As can be seen from footage, the attacks by the violent protesters were ferocious. The policeman shot skyward as deterrence at last. The situation was very dangerous indeed, as it could have resulted in casualties. Though no one has died from the incident, it is difficult to predict whether a radical protester or a policeman will lose their lives next time if the level of violence continues to go up.
Since the beginning of the anti‑amendment storm, millions of people have taken to the streets to express their dissatisfaction with the government. The absolute majority of them are "peaceful, rational and non‑violent". However, the violent elements of the protest have taken shelter of peaceful demonstrations and sought opportunities to cause chaos. It is true that violence is an outcome rather than a cause, and the deep‑seated problems should not be ignored. The fact that the government has not taken any effective action to address the discontent of the people means that it has to shoulder much responsibility for the growing storm against the amendments. How the police use force should also be looked into and dealt with. However, as long as society does not distance itself from violence, the violent people will have a pretext to keep upping the scale of violence.
Radical protesters are not happy with the government. There is no reason why they should vent their anger on facilities for the people. Last week the Yuen Long MTR station was severely damaged. Such acts of sabotage were totally unnecessary. They were taken for the sake of sabotage only, and were absolutely unreasonable. The MTR, in view of the march at Kwun Tong on Saturday, suspended the train services of seven stations on the Kwun Tong line for the better part of the day citing "the safety of staff, passengers and facilities", which has drawn much criticism.However, some people have queried whether the MTR obstructed lawful demonstrations and succumbed to pressure from the state media on the mainland. By closing some of the train stations and suspending train services, the MTR caused serious inconvenience to citizens. It is necessary to discuss seriously whether the MTR overreacted. However, it is believed that the MTR would not have made such a controversial move had it not been for the vandalisation of an MTR station previously.
The storm of protest against the amendment has so developed that there is no limit to the use of violence by a handful of protesters judging from their weapons, equipment, action plans and acts of sabotage. Some might think that that was the result of the suppression of the government and the police. However, all sectors of society do have to calm down and think whether Hong Kong as a civilised society can accept such violent actions. Society has to say "no" to violence and distinguish between peaceful protesters, who are in the absolute majority, and a handful of violent people.
明報社評 2019.08.27：暴力獠牙愈顯猙獰 擦槍走火概率陡升
parlour：a shop/store that provides particular goods or services
vent sth (on sb/sth)：to express feelings, especially anger, strongly
for the sake of sth/of doing sth：in order to get or keep sth