Opposing groups in Hong Kong searching for a way out

Opposing groups in Hong Kong searching for a way out
The divide can be clearly seen: The protest leaders were young and wearing jeans and black T-shirts with the words "Freedom Now" written in English. On the other side, the government representatives were all dressed in formal business suits.

It's not a good time to be a policeman in Hong Kong now. Working a minimum 18-hour shift, they have to be physically and mentally fit to deal with the protesters.

They also have to exercise incredible self-restraint to put up with the kind of indignity they face every day with the abuses hurled against them.

Their Malaysian counterparts would probably shake their heads in disbelief if they could see what the HK cops have had to face over the past three weeks since the protests started.

If we were to believe the news filed by the Western news agencies, we would think that the HK police must be a brutal lot while the students are merely a bunch of idealistic and harmless protesters seeking to make their voices heard.

But it is not as simplistic as that. The students are not simply following a blind cause. They have reasons to believe that unless their points are made known, the results that follow may create more long-term problems for their society as a whole.

Their intentions are noble even if the resulting chaos may not be what they anticipate.

As the protests enter the fourth week, the tension has increased many notches. Tempers have become shorter as the stakes of the game have also escalated.

The authorities and protesters appear to be in search of a typical Chinese face-saving exit but don't quite know how.

On Tuesday, the first round of talks between Hong Kong officials and the students was held with no clear outcome.

The students reiterated their demand for an unrestricted choice of candidates in the election for the territory's chief executive in 2017, something both Hong Kong and Beijing officials deem impossible.

The divide can be clearly seen even in the way the talks were conducted. The protest leaders, one woman and four men, were young and wearing jeans and black T-shirts with the words Freedom Now written in English.

On the other side, the government was also represented by four men and one woman, all dressed in formal business suits.

But now that both sides have finally come to the negotiating table, it is expected that more talks will be carried out to come to a final solution acceptable to all.

But everyone concedes that the protests cannot continue despite the bravado of these students telling CNN or BBC on camera that they will occupy the streets forever.

The students' biggest challenge is to convince Hong Kongers, especially the businessmen and older people, that their fight will not hurt the economy as millions of dollars have been lost.

Much more than that, Hong Kongers are seeing an unprecedented political culture which they find disturbing.

A video that has gone viral in HK social media shows a cop facing a crowd of protesters shoving their middle fingers on his face. Yet, he walked away nonchalantly even when faced with extreme provocation.

There have also been reports that bags of urine had been hurled at the policemen.

At Sai Yee Street junction in Mongkok, I saw a group of protesters accusing two policemen of police brutality after a woman purportedly fell on the ground.

The two cops were confronted by a rowdy group, and when one of the cops said the woman appeared unhurt, the angry mob retorted that they were just cops and not doctors, and had no right to make that remark.

The crowd soon went into a frenzy, obstructing a bus, and next, put up barricades at the junction. The two constables ended up diverting traffic to another road!

The woman "victim" suddenly disappeared in the crowd and was not a focus anymore as the protesters took control of the street.

More about

Purchase this article for republication.



Your daily good stuff - AsiaOne stories delivered straight to your inbox
By signing up, you agree to our Privacy policy and Terms and Conditions.