People attack Hong Kong official Patrick Nip's car on September 22, 2019. Photo: RTHK

Demonstrators trapped a Hong Kong government official in his car for around 15 minutes on Sunday before police were called in to disperse the crowd. The incident happened just days before a town hall meeting planned by Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor to which 150 residents have been invited on Thursday in an effort to ease the unrest that has rocked the city since June.

On Sunday, Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Secretary Patrick Nip Tak-kuen attended an event in Tsing Yi to mark the upcoming 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, but when he left, anti-government demonstrators ambushed him and blocked his car.

His driver tried to make a quick getaway but a protester blocked the way by getting in front of the car. Others then placed objects, including traffic cones, sandbags and rubbish bins, in front of the vehicle’s wheels.

Some protesters yelled at Nip, demanding that he come out to address their concerns. Nip was seen talking to someone on his phone. At one point, a protester hit the windshield with a metal bar, cracking the glass.

Fifteen minutes later, riot police arrived and dispersed the protesters, and Nip’s car finally left.

Previously, at the event itself, some people threw paper cups and other objects at Nip and shone laser beams at his face as he delivered a speech onstage.

At one point, a woman approached him and asked why he did not stay and have a “dialogue” with them. Nip asked her to calm down and walked away.

A witness told Radio Television Hong Kong that around 50 people surrounded Nip’s car. He said he thought Nip should have come out to talk to the young people, as it had been his choice to attend a public event.

Nip later claimed on Facebook that he had been willing to get out of the car to speak directly with the protesters on-site, but thought better of it when some of them lost their temper and started to throw objects and hit his vehicle with a steel bar. Concerned that the situation would get worse and people would get hurt, he decided to stay in the car.

The government under Lam’s administration has been under pressure to reach out to people to find a way to end the current crisis, which started with her proposal of the so-called extradition bill in June and snowballed into a wide-ranging crisis covering demands for an independent commission of inquiry on excessive police force and the implementation of universal suffrage.

Pro-democracy lawmaker Claudia Mo said Nip had relatively little exposure to the saga but still needed to face the public when people were demonstrating discontent with the government, Ming Pao Daily reported.

Lawmaker Michael Tien Puk-sun, a member of the pro-Beijing Roundtable faction, said that even after a public official encountered an angry segment of the public, the town hall meeting still needed to go ahead to show the government’s willingness to settle the unrest.

Meanwhile, former chief executive Leung Chun-yin has said he would offer a cash reward for anybody who can send him useful information regarding the funding sources and goods given to the protesters, according to an interview with China News Services.

Leung, vice-chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, China’s top political advisory body, earlier set up a HK$1 million (US$127,560) reward scheme and appealed to the public to send him information on whoever removed a national flag from a pole in Tsim Sha Tsui and threw it into the sea in August.

Leung last week publicly criticized the Education Bureau for being too lenient on teachers who make anti-police remarks and singled out Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung for special criticism, adding that the bureau should not be “neutral” when dealing with those who express anti-police views.

On Monday morning, a giant banner reading “disband the police force” alongside a red tick was spotted on Beacon Hill. Protesters have been hanging up giant banners on various hillside locations, including Lion Rock, to express their thoughts and demands. Firefighters took down the Beacon Hill banner.

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