Hong Kong's civil servants have become the latest sector to be caught up in the city's escalating political and social unrest, with government department "Lennon Walls" and threats of strike action met by pleas for workers to support the embattled administration and police force.
Several hundred civil servants have signed two open letters accusing Chief Executive Carrie Lam of ignoring the public over the extradition bill crisis, and the police of failing to protect people attacked by a marauding gang in Yuen Long MTR Station on Sunday.
The first letter to be issued, signed by civil servants from more than 40 bureaus and departments including the police and RTHK, threatened industrial action if the government fails to respond to the demands of extradition bill protesters.
As well as an inquiry into claims of police brutality, the letter called for the resignations of Lam, Police Commissioner Stephen Lo, Justice Secretary Teresa Cheng and Security Secretary John Lee.
The letter warned that there are concerns the Civil Service is being used by the authorities to "tear apart the society".
One of those who signed, a worker at the Innovation and Technology Bureau, told RTHK that the industrial action threatened could take the form of a strike.
The second letter, signed by hundreds of executive officers within the Civil Service, noted suspicions that the police had colluded with triads over the violent attacks in Yuen Long and said the force had failed to protect the public.
But while individual civil servants appeared to be siding with anti-government protesters, two major Civil Service unions took an entirely different stance.
The Government Employees Association and the Hong Kong Civil Servants General Union – along with the pro-government group the Chinese Academy of Governance Hong Kong Alumni Association – issued a statement calling on civil servants to remain neutral.
They added, however, that government workers must support the administration and the police.
The statement urged an end to the ongoing protests and for people to work with the government to resolve social conflicts.
It also condemned Sunday night's vandalism of Beijing's liaison office, agreeing with the SAR and central government that by throwing eggs and paint at the building and the national emblem, protesters had openly challenged the central government’s authority.