A senior government official of China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) said Friday that the HKSAR government will take necessary actions to ensure people's safety and their rights to travel to the best of its ability.
Noting that Hong Kong is no longer a safe place as the security situation here has sharply worsened over the past few days due to escalating violence, Chief Secretary for Administration Matthew Cheung told an inter-departmental press conference that the HKSAR government will never allow anybody to threaten the welfare of the residents.
In multiple districts of Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and New Territories, radical protesters disrupted public transport by throwing heavy objects on a massive scale onto thoroughfares, setting fires at various locations and obstructing railways with various objects, paralyzing the once busy East Rail Line, Cross-Harbor Tunnel and Tolo Highway for days in a row, Cheung said, adding that commute traffic, schools and emergency rescue operations have all been affected.
Rioters claimed they would reopen one lane of Tolo Highway on Friday morning, but the lane was not reopened until afternoon because there were rioters standing on the bridge threatening cleaners with arrows and hard objects, he said, adding the rioters also threatened to block the highway again if their so-called demands are not met.
The chief secretary noted that masked mobsters continued to commit vandalism and arson and hurled petrol bombs. They even escalated their violence by throwing petrol bombs into trains of the Mass Transit Railways (MTR), dropping objects high from bridges, torching buses and police cars and assaulting police officers with arrows.
Besides, several college campuses were occupied by rioters including the Chinese University of Hong Kong, where about 400 petrol bombs were thrown. Rioters were reportedly producing deadly weapons such as petrol bombs inside universities and blocking accesses to the campuses, Cheung said.
Cheung expressed deep condolences to the families of a 70-year-old cleaner who was hit in the head by objects hurled by rioters and later died in hospital. He also mentioned that another innocent civilian who was set alight by rioters is still in critical condition, adding that such cruel acts were outrageous.
"Confronted with further deteriorating situations, the HKSAR government will take more resolute measures to stop violence and end chaos, and it is our top priority to bring the society back to normal as soon as possible," Cheung stressed.
Cheung said he has led an inter-departmental team to make overall work arrangements including monitoring situations, responding, releasing information and clarifying rumors, in an effort to ensure sufficient coordination and effective implementation.
"Hong Kong is being wracked by violence and faces an extremely serious situation. No matter how different your political views are, you can not support or acquiesce in violence in any ways," he said. "Otherwise many young people and the Hong Kong society would be pushed to a point of no return."