Strike fizzles as reality bites

Top News | Jane Cheung 10 Dec 2019

A new wave of citywide strikes called by netizens yesterday hardly made a ripple - a day after 800,000 people marched in a largely peaceful rally organized by the Civil Human Rights Front.

A political analyst said fewer people took part in protests because they realized Beijing is unlikely to back down.

Morning traffic was only slightly disrupted as the plan to bring the city to a standstill on the six-month anniversary of the unrest ended with a whimper.

But a teacher and six students were among 12 people arrested in Sheung Shui after police seized several electric drills, iron bars, kerosene and iron studs suspected to be used for poking tires to block roads.

Chief Superintendent Kwok Ka-chuen of the police public relations branch said it was alarming to find a teacher and students acting as a group.

"Teachers are supposed to nurture young students and groom them into future leaders," he said.

As netizens drummed up efforts to launch a work, class and market strike from dawn yesterday, road blocks were set up in various districts while protesters stopped MTR train doors from closing and threw objects onto tracks.

But traffic remained largely normal as police stepped up law enforcement.

Officers had been stationed at 24 MTR stations and 25 spots with busy traffic since 4am yesterday, stopping and searching suspicious-looking people and taking away some black-clad people.

Dozens of "black-bloc" protesters - wearing black clothes, sunglasses and face masks - turned up in Tseung Kwan O, Mong Kok, Tai Po and Lam Tin, where they set up roadblocks before fleeing as riot police arrived.

MTR services remained largely normal as pro-government "blue ribbon" teams showed up on platforms.

About 7am, several protesters appeared in Tuen Mun station and attempted to stop train doors from closing but they were scolded by masked "blue ribbon prefects" who insulted them as "cockroaches."

A dozen prefects on the platform of Wong Tai Sin station surrounded a Next Magazine reporter surnamed Lam, who was taking videos on the platform.

A 54-year-old man surnamed Lo and a woman Wong, 21, allegedly hit Lam. During the scuffle, Lam's camera was broken.

Lau Siu-kai, vice president of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, said: "More people have realized that fighting merely by violent means is not effective in pressurizing the central government."

Lau said Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has done her best in responding to protesters' demands, adding that implementation of universal suffrage, one of five protest demands, is out of Lam's control.

"She took the greatest step back tby withdrawing the fugitive bill," he said. "I think all these months, the SAR government has backed down the most it can do."

Since protests first broke out on June 9, police have arrested 6,022 people, aged 11 to 84, of whom 2,393 - or 40 percent - are students.

More than 740 students from subsidized universities have been arrested, with the most - almost 180 - from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, followed by more than 140 from the University of Hong Kong and about 120 from the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Nineteen live rounds and 16,000 canisters of tear gas were fired, along with 10,000 rubber bullets, more than 2,000 beanbag rounds and 1,850 sponge grenades.

jane.cheung@singtaonewscorp.com

More reports:

Legal minds condemn arson and vandalism

PolyU new semester to start on time

Li group cuts ties with ex-taipan

Taiwan door closing for protesters

Editorial:

Unrest's tacit truce not trustworthy

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