We are a group of staff members of the Hong Kong Tourism Board. As employees of a government-subvented organisation tasked with promoting Hong Kong to visitors worldwide, we would like to join other public bodies, civil servants and professional organisations in expressing our indignation over the incidents in the past weeks that were triggered by the proposed extradition bill.
In the recent two months, the city we once proudly called home and a world-class travel destination has undergone drastic changes. Over a million Hong Kong residents have taken to the street to voice their opposition against the proposed extradition bill. Gripped by a sense of helplessness and despair about the bill and the degradation of Hong Kong’s political landscape, some even took their own lives. Despite all these, the government regrettably refused to respond directly to the demands of the people - whom it is supposed to serve - to withdraw the bill, but rather employed double-talk in an attempt to fool the public. And to further split society asunder, the government gave the police tacit approval to use unnecessary violence, from tear gas to beanbag rounds, react rounds and rubber bullets, on the protestors, most of whom were unarmed and adhering to the etiquette of peaceful demonstration, and even on journalists and legislators.
What saddened and outraged us the most, however, was seeing thugs dressed in white beating people indiscriminately in Yuen Long MTR station in the evening of July 21. Not only did the police arrive at the scene unreasonably late, but they even closed the doors of the police stations when people tried to get help, while the emergency hotline 999 could not be got through. It is difficult to make sense of such police behaviour, which all seem to suggest collusion with the attackers. The police’s explanation that the 39 minutes in delay for the police to arrive at the crime scene was a result of the deployment of the majority of the police force - which comprises about 30,000 members of staff - to Sheung Wan sounded like nothing but an excuse.
At the media stand-up the day following the attack, Chief Executive Carrie Lam clearly attached greater importance to the protest in Sheung Wan which was political in nature than the violence that took place in Yuen Long which caused bodily harm to innocent people, and to a large extend, equivocate the natures between the two. In fact, she even agreed at one point that the national emblem was more valuable than the lives of the assault victims. Such disregard for human rights and ethical principles is hair-raising.
The HKTB was always promoting Hong Kong as a safe city to visitors. Yet, during the past weeks, not only did the assault in Yuen Long destroyed this longstanding reputation of Hong Kong, but we also saw the police forcefully disperse the protestors inside a shopping mall, which aggravated the tension and led to standoffs and casualties. On the contrary, we have seen the people of Hong Kong safeguarding the city and epitomising the bright side of humanity during this period of social turmoil - protesters parting ways to let an ambulance pass, collecting and recycling wastes, and protecting foreign journalists and strangers. The Lennon Walls that sprang up across the city also demonstrated the solidarity and determination of the people of Hong Kong to fight for the freedom they rightly deserve.
The protests no doubt have an impact on the tourism industry, it is however not the protestors but the government that is to blame. Carrie Lam, the self-professed “mother” of Hong Kong people, can no longer shed her responsibilities in causing a divided Hong Kong. We hereby solemnly urge the government to respond to the five demands of the people and set up a Commission of Inquiry to seriously look into allegations of the police’s abuse of power and collusion with members of the triads, and give society a truthful explanation.
While it is our job to promote Hong Kong, it is our duty as Hongkongers to protect our city. We stand by all those who love Hong Kong and who are protecting our city. Please stay safe in this historic battle for freedom and justice.