Hong Kong’s Legislative Council called off its scheduled meetings on Thursday after police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at tens of thousands of protesters opposed to the extradition law.
According to a statement on the Legco website, Legco President Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen decided the council meeting postponed on Wednesday would not be held on Thursday. An announcement would be made once he decided when to hold the meeting.
A large clearance operation took place in Admiralty on Wednesday after protesters occupied key roads in Admiralty outside the Legco building. Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor called the protests “organized riots” and claimed there was no reason to retract the proposed extradition bill amendment.
The police operation continued in the late evening and tear gas was fired to disperse the crowds in front of Pacific Place, forcing protesters to retreat inside a shopping mall. At midnight, some protesters tried to occupy roads again, but most left at about 2 am.
Admiralty station sealed off
On Thursday morning, traffic flowed on key roads in Admiralty. Police sealed off the MTR station in Admiralty and rejected the Civil Human Rights Front’s application to have another protest outside Legco.
Hundreds of people gathered in Tamar Park and on main streets in Admiralty in case Legco suddenly resumed its meeting. Some held placards saying #Retract, which refers to their demand to withdraw the extradition bill, and “Stop shooting at Hong Kong citizens.”
Police checked IDs and bags, according to RTHK footage. Police did not find any illegal items in the bags of passers-by.
Leung Yiu-chung, a pro-democracy lawmaker and a member of the pro-labor Neighbourhood and Worker’s Service Centre, said the area around Admiralty appeared to be under martial law as police did not want anyone getting close to the Legco building. Leung said it was unreasonable for police to randomly search people.
Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung, vice-chairman of the Labour Party and a pro-democracy lawmaker, said it was possible that Legco may suddenly resume its meeting as most pro-Beijing legislators had arrived at the building. Cheung said there was no way to stop the bill in the chamber as the pro-Beijing camp held the majority seats.
Protest back on track
Meanwhile, protesters hatched a new plan. On Thursday they came up a new form of dissent called “uncooperative action on MTR” in a bid to get those in power to take notice of what people were demanding.
An idea circulated among various WhatsApp groups suggested an “uncooperative action plan” to paralyze the most important mass transport system in the city, in a lawful way, the Apple Daily reported.
The plan suggests passengers carrying suitcases either wander along the platforms or stay in trains all the way and don’t get out, so other commuters cannot board trains and services are suspended.
The initiator, who is anonymous, said blocking the road is illegal and high risk as the police force is equipped with weapons. The plan aims to overload the city’s main transport system in a lawful and comfortable way, and the protesters hope this will force the government to respond to their requests.
However, some showed reservations about the plan as they worried the action would cause anger among commuters. But the protesters still put the plan into action.
At 8 am on Thursday, about 70 people gathered at Tiu Keng Leng Station. One claimed that his feet were trapped between the train and the platform gap, local broadcaster TVB reported.
Several police officers and MTR staff rushed to help the man and lifted him up. Other similar incidents happened along the Kwun Tong Line. At Kwun Tong Station, police officers with shields were called in to stand by.
Meanwhile, the railway operator announced Admiralty Station would remain closed following a request by police. Admiralty Station had closed at 8.30 pm on Wednesday after running battles between anti-extradition protesters and police that left at least 72 injured.
Trains on the Island Line, the Tsuen Wan Line and the South Island Line will not stop at the station. Free shuttle buses were being laid on between Ocean Park Station and Admiralty.
Many commuters said they took an extra 10 to 15 minutes to get to their offices, but added that was acceptable and understandable.
On June 9, when an estimated 1.03 million people took to the street to protest against the extradition bill amendments, there were too many people taking trains to Victoria Park in Causeway Bay, and the trains did not stop at Causeway Bay Station and Tin Hau Station.