As It Happens

Hong Kong police 'turned a blind eye' to train station attack, says injured lawmaker

Democratic legislator Lam Cheuk-ting was injured during a mob attack at a Hong Kong train station and questions why police didn't do more to intervene.

Pro-democracy legislator Lam Cheuk-ting was wounded by men wielding sticks and metal bars

Image taken from video footage by The Stand News shows a mob of men in white shirts attacking a man at Yuen Long station in Hong Kong. (The Stand News/The Associated Press)


For weeks, protestors in Hong Kong have pushed back against an extradition bill they say is undemocratic. But earlier this week, an opposing force violently hit back.

On Sunday night, a group of men armed with sticks and metal bars stormed Yuen Long metro station, injuring dozens.

Police have arrested six men — some of whom have links to organized crime. But pro-democracy lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting, who was wounded in the attack, is questioning why the police didn't intervene sooner. 

Hong Kong's police chief ha said the the riot police were late to respond because they were dealing with the protesters.

Lam Cheuk-ting spoke to As It Happens guest host Megan Williams about the attack. Here is part of their conversation.

You were in the hospital after the attack at the Yuen Long station. How are you doing now?

I'm getting better, but my mouth has deep cuts — 18 stitches — and crushed bone on my right hand.

Can you take us back to the attack? When were you aware that something was going on in Yuen Long station?

Yes. Around 9:45 p.m. at night, I received footage from the Internet showing a youngster who was under attack by the suspected gangsters in Yuen Long.

I then called the police force and I told them I was going to Yuen Long to monitor the situation. And when I arrived at Yuen Long station, and I then went downstairs, I found broken batons nearby and so much blood on the floor.

Several minutes later, the gangsters, almost 100 people, storm into the station to attack the crowd.

Armed with metal rods and wooden poles, men in white shirts attacked commuters and pro-democracy demonstrators. (The Associated Press)

And can you tell me what these men looked like?

They were all in white shirts and they have baton or wooden bar in hand as the weapons.

They stay outside the entrance gate and can't stay inside the gate. They use foul language, shouted at us.

It was really chaotic. I asked them not to hit the crowd anymore and asked them to leave, and they refused.

Who were the men going after? Were they trying to hit everybody, or were they targeting certain people?

They hit everyone indiscriminately — no matter male or female, elderly or youngster.

We then escaped to the upper floor, which is the platform to the train. And we then went into the train and gangsters stormed into the train, used the baton to attack all the people in the train. It was very horrific. 

So the men were hitting people inside the train car as it was moving?

No. The train stopped in the station and the train hadn't closed the door and an attacker used a baton and wooden stick to attack the people inside the train, and quite a lot of them are the passengers. Not so many [were] protesters of the anti-extradition law ordinance.

So most of the people were just ordinary commuters, not necessarily protesters?

Yes. The crowd in the train were terrified.

How were you feeling during all of this?

I strongly condemn the brutal, horrific assault to ordinary people of Hong Kong.

And I also strongly condemn the Hong Kong police force, [which] took no action to prevent ... the attack. 

Lam Cheuk-ting bleeding and injured after the attack. (The Associated Press)

I want to ask you about that. The police have made arrests and some of those arrested may have links to organized crime networks or part of the Triad? ... Why do you think that?

They are all white-shirted and they are obviously well-organized. 

During the attack, we found most of them have tattoos on their arms or legs. In Hong Kong, quite a lot of the Triad members have tattoos.

Photojournalists also captured an encounter of what appears to be riot police talking with two of the men in white shirts who are holding metal bars or sticks and patting one on the shoulder before walking off. What do you make of that? 

I think the police force sent a very wrong message.

It seems that they allow the attacker to leave and they haven't performed their duties to search or arrest those attackers. It seems that the police force deliberately turned a blind eye to those wrongdoers.

The police force deliberately allow them to attack the ordinary people in Hong Kong.

After this mob attack at the station in Hong Kong, the violence that you experienced and you saw, are you going to keep protesting or has this made you more cautious?

I will keep protesting and I will not back down — just like all of our Hong Kong people. We will fight no matter how difficult.

Written by Morgan Passi and John McGill. Produced by Morgan Passi. Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.