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Tempers boil at the water cannon demonstration

2019-08-12 HKT 18:59
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  • Tempers boil at the water cannon demonstration
A police demonstration of specialised crowd management vehicles turned into a messy row between pro-Beijing lawmaker Junius Ho and his pan-democratic counterparts, with heated exchanges and name calling.

The lawmakers were all invited to the Police Tactical Unit headquarters in Fanling to observe a display of the new machines and ask officers questions related to its operation.

During the demonstration, pro-democracy lawmakers held placards that accused the police of misconduct, including firing tear gas in an indoor environment. Lawmaker Au Nok-hin covered his right eye with a towel to reflect the incident on Sunday in which a female protester was injured.

After Ho asked officers a question, pan-democrats including Au shouted, calling Ho was "a triad gang member". Ho was filmed thanking and shaking hands with some white-shirted men, the same day some passengers were attacked at the Yuen Long MTR station last month.

Ho reacted strongly by snatching pan-democrat convenor Claudia Mo's protest poster. He then demanded Civic Party's Dennis Kwok, whom he called a "running dog for the US", repeat what he said in front of the camera so Ho could make a report.

Kwok and some other lawmakers travelled to the United States recently to shore up support for the opposition.

Another pan-democrat, Leung Yiu-chung, questioned Ho, "If you are not a triad member, why be afraid of what others say?"

Ho ignored Leung and then turned to the Democratic Party's Lam Cheuk-ting, who was also calling Ho offensive names. There was some pushing and verbal abuse between the two.

Ho left the scene a few minutes later after pro-establishment lawmakers, including DAB's Gary Chan, intervened to end the dispute.

Police officers had left already after a question-and-answer session on water cannon trucks. During the event, officers said they will have a proper set of guidelines to follow when deciding the level of water pressure, or whether to mix water with tear-inducing liquids.

One of the lawmakers who attended the demonstration, DAB lawmaker Elizabeth Quat, said she believes police will strictly follow guidelines when deploying these trucks.

But Mo accused the police of being dishonest and saying they didn't demonstrate the real power of the water cannons.

During the demonstration, officers put dummies at 20 to 40 metres away from the trucks, and aimed the water jets towards the lower part of the dummies, sweeping them a few metres away.

Senior superintendent Chan Kin-kwok said police will aim at the lower limbs of people, and the spray won’t cause long-term health issues.