Disbanding the police force has emerged as a new demand among anti-government protesters and nearly 90 per cent of 138,000 Hongkongers who took part in an online poll gave the city’s law enforcement a rating of zero.
The survey, which was released on Tuesday (Sept 24) night by three self-proclaimed spokesmen for the so-called Citizens’ Press Conference, also indicated that respondents were not afraid of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) or emergency laws that could suppress their movement and freedoms.
The group said the poll had been online since September 8. Among the 71 topics on the survey were statements about the government’s attempts to ease the crisis, protesters’ demands and the outlook of the movement.
The topics were ranked on a scale of one to five, with one meaning “strongly disagree” and five “strongly agree”. The idea of disbanding the police force as a way to resolve the political turmoil had an overall score of 4.32.
Fears of a deployment of PLA troops scored a 2.16, while the notion that emergency laws would not stop protesters from resisting was at 4.45.
On a scale of zero to 10, the satisfaction rating for the police force was 0.2, with some 120,000 of the respondents — or 87 per cent — giving a rating of zero.
One of the Citizens’ Press Conference spokesmen said: “The take-home point is that the government’s refusal to meet citizens’ demands only led to an evolution of the demands. Hongkongers are moving away from calling for an independent probe into police brutality. Instead, many are now calling for the police force to be disbanded all together.”
He was referring to the protesters’ five demands, of which Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has met only one. She announced the withdrawal of the hated extradition bill on Sept 4, three months after the mass protests kicked off.
The other demands include an independent commission of inquiry into police action during dispersal operations against protesters.
The spokesman warned the government that it should meet the demands – or protesters could step them up as discontent intensified.
“Enacting an emergency law or an anti-mask law is no use. It is in breach of civil liberties, and it cannot erode our determination to resist,” he said.
The government indicated on Tuesday that international examples of anti-mask laws were being studied. Officials have also suggested that they were holding back from invoking the Emergency Regulations Ordinance, which would grant sweeping powers to tackle social unrest.
The spokesman mentioned a recent controversy over protesters trying to snatch a police officer’s gun during a clash in Tuen Mun, saying: “It is not for us to say it is right or wrong. We have to appreciate the dangers faced by frontline protesters and we trust their judgment on the appropriate level of force to be used in face of police.”
He also came to the defence of radical protesters who targeted MTR stations and businesses with ties to the mainland.
“Those companies have chosen the wrong side,” he said. “They choose to collude with Beijing. They of course must face consequences. We won’t let them go.”
It was the third time the group had released results of polls since August 18. The organisers used an online form and invited respondents via messages circulated on their networks and social media.
As in the past, at Tuesday night’s press conference, representatives wore masks, helmets and black clothes.