Policing Hong Kong’s Police: How to Restore Trust
After seven months of protests, the Hong Kong Police Force has become villainised by a large swath of Hong Kong society. Sympathisers say the force, unfairly, has borne the brunt of popular disaffection, tasked to respond to what is essentially a political problem playing out on city streets. Others, backed by data and evidence, say the police force now lacks discipline and accountability, as officers routinely violate their guidelines and use excessive force without accountability. The government’s police watchdog, the Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC), is preparing an interim report on the causes of the protests, due for release this month, but has lost credibility after international experts tasked to consult in this process quit, citing its ineffectiveness. Where do we go from here – and can Hong Kong rebuild its broken relationship with the police force short of a fully independent inquiry into their conduct?
LAWRENCE HO: Dr. Lawrence Ka-ki Ho, an assistant professor in the Department of Social Sciences at The Education University of Hong Kong (EdUHK), is a leading expert on the Hong Kong police. He is affiliated with the Academy of Hong Kong Studies at the university, and was appointed as an honorary fellow of the Center for Criminology at HKU. His research includes the history and sociology of colonial and decolonised policing, public order management and policing youth and deviance. He has written books on colonial and post-colonial policing in Hong Kong and Macau, and on the history of the Hong Kong police.
CLEMENT LAI: Clement Lai is 22-year veteran of the Hong Kong police force, who founded the Clement Shield Limited, a private security firm, in 2015. After joining the Hong Kong police in 1992, he was appointed Close Protection Officer for the visits of Chinese Presidents and Premiers, as well as for overseas dignitaries including U.S. President Bill Clinton. Lai took charge of the Airport Security Unit, established the Counter Terrorism Response Unit in 2009, and was promoted to Superintendent in 2012.
DORIANE LAU: Doriane Lau is a researcher at Amnesty International East & South East Asia & the Pacific Regional Office, focusing on general human rights issues in Hong Kong and LGBTI rights, human rights defenders and the use of the death penalty in mainland China. In her role at Amnesty International, she is also working on a briefing on the need for an independent inquiry into the Hong Kong police, and what it should look like.
Speaker: Lawrence Ho, Clement Lai, Doriane Lau,