Hundreds of Hong Kong doctors and nurses published a signed letter expressing support for the police force on Monday, while another group staged a protest against excessive use of force.
The letter was published in newsapers after a number of sit-ins were staged, human chains were organized at some hospitals, and an open letter was signed by about a thousand medical personnel calling for the government to accede to the five demands pro-democracy protesters made in June.
The pro-police letter, signed by around 500 doctors and nurses, was published on Monday in local newspapers. It read: “Hong Kong law and order in danger. We must break silence. Safeguard law and order. Medical sector jointly signed [the open letter].” It also urged people to reject the glorification of violence.
Among the signatories were renowned doctors including National People’s Congress deputy Dr Dennis Lam Shun Chiu; Dr Donald Li Kwok-tung, a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, China’s top political advisory body; liver transplant expert Lo Chung-mau, who is also the head of the University of Hong Kong-Shenzhen Hospital; vice-chairman of the Hong Kong Medical Association Dr David Lam Tzit-yuen; and medical school professor Rosie Young Tse-tse.
The letter also expressed concern about the police being demonized, and the rule of law being defied, adding that medical professionals who want detained protesters to be granted amnesty did not represent the entire sector.
They also called on medical staff to put their differences aside and help patients regardless of their political views, occupations or backgrounds.
Meanwhile, a few hundreds medical staff staged a rally at the Prince of Wales Hospital in Shatin, New Territories, to protest against the excessive use of police force.
Most of the participants wore facemasks and displayed their palms with five fingers up, signifying the five demands they wanted the government to meet.
They also chanted slogans, sang the new protest song “Glory to Hong Kong” and formed a human chain. A patient lying on a stretcher gave the thumbs up to show his support as a pregnant woman joined in the singing.
South Korean actor Kim Ui-song, who starred in the movie Train to Busan, was at the scene to show support and urged the police to stop the violence.
Meanwhile, a student reporter from the Baptist University of Hong Kong was released on HK$500 (US$64) bail on Monday evening, after being arrested by police because they found a table knife in his bag on Sunday night.
A group of four student reporters were covering the fights between pro- and anti-government people in Fortress Hill and North Point for the university news channel. At around 11 am, they were intercepted by police officers who asked for permission to search their bags.
A knife was found in a male student’s bag. Police arrested him for alleged possession of an offensive weapon.
The student, surnamed So, said after his release that he had the knife to cut mooncakes for friends as they celebrated the Mid-Autumn Festival the day before. He said he was “too lazy” to remove the knife before going to the protest sites the next day.
The arrest prompted a march at the university campus in Kowloon Tong on Monday afternoon. Students and alumni urged the institution’s management to provide legal and financial assistance for the student and for it to condemn the police for making an “unjust” arrest.
The police force has been accused of selective enforcement, ignoring the misconduct of pro-government people who attack black-clad protesters.
Some students gathered outside the office of the university’s president, Ronald Chin, to demand a meeting with him. Chin had sent an email earlier saying the university was deeply concerned about the arrest.
The Hong Kong Journalist Association issued a statement saying the arrested student had started reporting on April 10. On Sunday night, he was wearing a reflective vest and a helmet clearly marked “Press.” He also had a press badge. He said he repeatedly explained to the police officers that he was a reporter on duty.
The association is demanding that the police force explain why a reporter was searched while on duty and why other reporters were not allowed to film it.
Senior Superintendent Steve Li defended the arrest, saying the student reporter was seen wandering around with a group of protesters. He said at the daily police press conference on Monday that “a nine-inch sharp knife, very sharp” was found in his bag, but he did not show a photo of the knife.
Li said the officer at the scene did not accept the explanation that the knife was used for cutting mooncakes.
A photo posted on the university news channel, the Broadcast News Network, showed the type of knife that So said he had on his person.