Flights cancelled, trains suspended as Hong Kong protesters look to shut down city with multiple strikes
Barricades have been put up around the Central Government Offices in the city as security has been stepped up in anticipation of widespread chaos resulting from protesters’ calls for a territorywide strike and disruption of morning train services. Rallies are being planned in seven locations.
(The Star) – Some train services have been suspended, and umbrellas have been used by protesters to prevent platform doors from closing at train stations.
The Airport Authority said 209 flights have been cancelled at Hong Kong airport, as of 8.15am, and 10 flights have been cancelled for Tuesday.
Flights scheduled to fly on Monday (Aug 5) from Hong Kong International Airport to Changi Airport, including Cathay Pacific and FINNAIR, have been cancelled, according to the Hong Kong International Airport’s website.
No flights from Singapore to Hong Kong on Monday were cancelled as at 10am, according to the Changi International Airport website.
CITY’S TOP LEADER LAM CONDEMNS STRIKE, VIOLENT PROTESTERS
At a press conference at 10 am, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam strongly condemned the strike, violent protesters and their attacks on police stations. She was accompanied by Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung and Financial Secretary Paul Chan.
Messages circulating via Telegram chat had called on protesters to start the day at 7.30am with non-cooperative actions at Kwun Tong line Diamond Hill station in Kowloon, Tsuen Wan line Lai King station in Kwai Chung, and Island line Fortress Hill station.
In the afternoon at 1pm, rallies are expected in seven locations – Admiralty, Mong Kok, Wong Tai Sin, Tai Po, Sha Tin, Tsuen Wan and Hong Kong International Airport.
At 3pm, there is an assembly in Tuen Mun.
The rallies will go in tandem with calls for a general strike that have worried some in the business sector.
The Confederation of Trade Unions has said that most of the 95 unions affiliated with it have vowed to go on strike on Monday. This will include staff of various sectors such as transport, education, property management and security guards.
About 2, 000 social workers are expected to join the strike as well.
On Sunday night, the government issued a statement in which it said that the “blatant violation of law, wanton destruction of public peace and violent attacks on the police will harm Hong Kong’s society, economy and our people’s livelihood”.
“Such acts have already gone far beyond the limits of peaceful and rational protests for which the government and general public will not condone under any circumstances. Otherwise they will push Hong Kong into a very dangerous situation, ” it warned.
The government stressed that the economy is suffering from both external headwinds and local social issues and that the latest economic data, which is the worst over the past decade, shows that the city’s economy is weakening and risks of downturn increasing.
“Any large-scale strikes and acts of violence…will only undermine further the local economy that is facing downside risks, as well as the confidence of the international community and overseas investors in Hong Kong’s society and economy, causing loss and damages to law and order, economy, people’s livelihood, employment and eventually to the detriment of all quarters of society.”
The warning comes after a night of protests and acts of vandalism sprung up across the territory on Sunday.
POLICE ARREST 44 FOR SUNDAY’S PROTESTS
Police have arrested 44 persons for offences including unlawful assembly and possession of offensive weapons. The Police also strongly condemned radical protesters who disregarded law and order, reiterating that resolute enforcement actions will be taken against all illegal and violent acts.
Thousands had gathered in Tseung Kwan O for a rally on Sunday before surrounding the police station there to pelt rocks and throw eggs.
They later moved to Kennedy Town and Sai Ying Pun in western Hong Kong island where they faced-off with the riot police who fired tear gas to disperse the crowd. Sai Ying Pun district, where street battles took place the two previous weekends, is where Beijing’s liaison office in the city and the Western Police Station were located.
The crowd then heeded calls to gather at Causeway Bay where they blocked key roads including Gloucester Road and Hennessy Road, and disrupted traffic.
In a bid to slow the police’s advance, a small group torched rubbish bins and wooden panels on a side street as officers in riot gear closed in.
At the same time, some protesters broke away from the Causeway Bay crowd to block the cross harbour tunnel before joining another small group that vandalised Hong Kong’s national flower statue at Bauhinia Square, where official ceremonies are held.
These protesters regrouped in various sites including Kwun Tong, Wong Tai Sin, Lam Tin, Kowloon Tong and Mei Foo.
In smaller groups, they would block traffic or stage demonstrations outside police stations.
In some cases, residents joined protesters by hurling abuse at the police.
This is the ninth straight weekend of protests in Hong Kong, in a ballooning political crisis triggered by Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s push for a highly unpopular extradition Bill that critics said would have allowed the city to send suspects to mainland China for unfair trials.