MTR should avoid kowtowing to HK radical forces

Source:Global Times Published: 2019/8/23 20:03:40

MTR cannot kowtow to HK radical forces

Protesters jump over turnstiles at an MTR station on August 11. Photo: Wang Wenwen/GT

Radical protesters staged a sit-in at Yuen Long Station in Hong Kong on Wednesday. Late into the night, however, violence was again on the rise. Damage was made inside the station, and roadblocks were set up outside to confront riot police. To the anger of many people, Hong Kong's major public transport network, the Mass Transit Railway (MTR), did not alert the police in time and cooperate to enforce the law. Instead, a free train was readied for the protesters to leave at about 11:30 pm.

MTR's largest shareholder is the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government. It is a public institution that bears more responsibility than ordinary institutions to maintain the rule of law and social order in Hong Kong. Instead of cooperating with the police, it has provided convenience for radical protesters, allowing them to disrupt order inside the station and then helping them to escape. This is definitely not an example it should set for Hong Kong society.

Many people pointed out that the radical demonstrators are increasingly fond of engaging in extreme activities along the MTR lines, due to the anticipation of cooperation by the MTR. As long as disruptions take place near the MTR, they gather and disperse quickly, making them harder for the police to deal with. The evacuation of protesters by MTR trains after protests has become standard for the latter.

Some MTR employees are known to sympathize with the protesters. To say that the MTR is a little scared of protesters in the current situation is understandable. However, as a public institution with social responsibilities, the MTR must consider safeguarding Hong Kong's public interests, especially the rule of law, as a benchmark of its values. It cannot kowtow to radical forces or offer protesters special services far beyond what the public expects.

Time and time again, offering free train services to troublemakers after demonstrations is a move that Hong Kong's government and society have not authorized the MTR to make. The message this service sends in the current climate encourages the protesters and runs counter to the joint efforts of the HKSAR government and the people of Hong Kong to curb the violence.

We have noted that some MTR employees have also been beaten and abused by radical protesters. The MTR is caught in the eye of the storm. At such times, we should not bend over and go with the stream, nor should we engage in political speculation and try to butter up both sides of the fence. The MTR should have its own principles and character, and in the midst of the storm, it should be able to maintain its social responsibility.

The turmoil since June has seriously affected Hong Kong society, with many people gradually distancing themselves from the rule of law, a core value of Hong Kong, and tolerating various manifestations of lawlessness. In the past, it was not acceptable for the public to occupy roads, destroy public facilities and erect posters in public places. But now demonstrators often do this. Some think they tolerate and accept it for democracy.

If big companies such as the MTR and Cathay Pacific also wobble in their defense of Hong Kong's core values, or even tilt toward those who undermine the rule of law, then Hong Kong's foundation as a modern society will not only be damaged, it may even collapse. Hong Kong is indeed at a crossroads between restoring the rule of law and outright disorder.

The MTR is telling Hong Kong society that radical protesters who commit acts of violence will not only avoid arrest by the police, but will eventually enjoy free trains. The MTR presented a smiling face to the radical protesters and gave a cold eye to the police. With its actions, it has added to Hong Kong's turmoil.

Without a stable and prosperous Hong Kong, where is the future of the MTR and the Hong Kong people? The management of the MTR should not lose its way. It's time for the MTR to take a firm stand. It should do its part so that Hong Kong does not lose its tomorrow.

Newspaper headline: MTR cannot kowtow to HK radical forces


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