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2019-11-16 HKT 21:10
Pro-democracy lawmakers have condemned People's Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers for leaving their barracks and participating in a clean-up operation in Kowloon Tong on Saturday, as the SAR government confirmed it did not request the assistance.
In a joint statement, the pan-democratic camp noted that under Article 14 of the Garrison Law, the PLA must not interfere in local affairs unless it is asked by the Hong Kong government to help with disaster relief or maintaining public order.
But a government spokesman said the military's involvement in clearing away debris from Junction Road and Renfrew Road – near Baptist University – was purely voluntary and the administration had not requested the move.
A spokesman for the PLA in Hong Kong, meanwhile, said troops were simply coming to the aid of nearby residents who were removing obstacles from the roads.
In their statement, the pan-dems said this was not the first time that PLA troops had breached the Basic Law and left their barracks, saying they had used ‘voluntary community service’ as an excuse to clear trees that had been brought down by super Typhoon Mangkhut at various country parks last year.
The opposition lawmakers accused the SAR government of colluding with the PLA to get around current laws to allow mainland troops to intervene in local affairs, saying this is detrimental to the city’s high level of autonomy.
Civic Party lawmaker Dennis Kwok said he had already filed an urgent question in Legco, seeking clarifications from the government over the incident.
The Citizens’ Press Conference, meanwhile, called the deployment of PLA soldiers onto the streets of Hong Kong ‘inappropriate’ and ‘entirely unacceptable’.
The protesters' platform said Saturday’s incident was a classic illustration of the ‘boiling frog syndrome’, and while the soldiers may have claimed to be ‘volunteering to clear roadblocks’ this time around, the move sets a perfect precedent for them to ‘violently suppress’ Hong Kong people in the near future.
The protesters added that this was an ‘ill-disguised attempt’ to undermine their determination to secure freedom and democracy, and they called on all sectors of society to remain on the alert.
Last updated: 2019-11-16 HKT 21:23