Monday, 21 October 2019

In a First, Carrie Lam Apologizes

Carrie Lam inside Kowloon Mosque with members of the Muslim community
In a first, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and the police force apologized to the Muslim community today about spraying blue dye on the steps of Kowloon Mosque.

Before noon she and an entourage of people walked along Nathan Road then up the steps to the mosque. She wore a suit with a long scarf around her neck, but she did not use it to cover her head as is customary for Muslim women.

Lam and Stephen Lo apologized for the water at the mosque
In any event, Lam and police chief Stephen Lo Wai-chung met with members of the Islamic Trust, a local community group, where both insisted the coloured water hitting the mosque was an accident. They were inside the mosque for 25 minutes and then Lam and Lo left without taking questions from reporters.

Later the government said the chief executive and police commissioner had "explained [the incident] again to the Muslim representatives", and Lam had apologized "for the inadvertent spraying of the mosque's main entrance and gate with coloured water".

Then in the afternoon the police force issued a statement, saying it apologized for the incident, saying the aim of the dispersal operation was to protect the mosque.

"Police respect religious freedom... and will spare no effort in protecting all religious premises," it said.

During the daily press conference today, the police trotted out Swalikh Mohammed, superintendent at the Cyber Security and Technology Crime Bureau, himself a Muslim, to explain the dispersal operation to the media.

Moments after the water cannon sprayed the mosque yesterday
Mohammed has nothing to do with what happened yesterday, but the police wants to show it is diverse in its ethnicities.

He said the police were in touch with the community and tried to recruit volunteers to help clean up the mosque soon after the incident. The police also apologized to bystanders who were caught up in the incident.

Does that mean they apologized to the witnesses and reporters who were just standing there at the time?

Representatives from the Muslim community at the meeting with Lam and Lo accepted their apologies, but Mohan Chugani, former president of the Indian Association of Hong Kong does not; he said the water cannon clearly took aim at bystanders including himself, even though there were no protesters around.

He said Lam personally called him to apologize, and while he accepts it in principle, he still plans to make a formal complaint to the police.

St Andrew's Church also got blue dye
"I told her [Lam] that police should not do that to innocent bystanders, no one should be subjected to that," Chugani said. "The police should exercise their common sense."

What's interesting is that previously Chugani was seen on stage at pro-police rallies, but now he has changed his mind about the force.

"I feel there is no more law and order in Hong Kong," he said.

Meanwhile, there was another religious building that was inadvertently sprayed yesterday -- St Andrew's Church, which is near the mosque.

At first the police didn't apologize to the church, but have since said sorry to vicar Alex McRoy.

"We understand that the use of the cannon... can be indiscriminate," he said.

When asked his thoughts about the ongoing unrest in the city, McRoy said there had been a lot of grief in society and there would not be an easy solution for this "complex issue", and urged Hongkongers to listen to each other with empathy.

Hongkongers expect more empathy from Lam to resolve crisis
Wonder if he has given the same advice to Lam, who might want to apologize to those Hongkongers who were inadvertently attacked with tear gas and pepper spray, for arresting innocent bystanders, for mistreating those they have arrested, in particular children, for creating unnecessary anxiety when the anti-mask ban was instituted, for the police mistreating reporters, and perhaps most importantly, for not withdrawing the extradition bill earlier.

If she had we would not be still in the 20th week of protests with no end in sight...

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