HONG KONG — In a feeble attempt to quell a city on edge, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam offered her “most sincere apology to all people of Hong Kong” on Tuesday, after an estimated 2 million people — more than a quarter of the city’s population — jammed up downtown in a second Sunday rally against a proposed bill to let criminal suspects be sent to China for prosecution. Multiple officials followed Lam with rather weak apologies, but it's not enough. The protesters vow more action in the streets unless the government withdraws the bill this week.
Ricky Chui was among the demonstrators who came out Sunday, in a stunning turnout that doubled the record set by protestors just a week earlier. It wasn't just the extradition bill that sparked the mass actions: Hongkongers fear that bill would be a stepping stone for the Mainland Communist Party government to erode the civil liberties granted to Hong Kong under the policy established in 1997 known as “One country, two systems.”
Only a week before, Chiu was working as a cafeteria manager at Hong Kong’s police headquarters. But he quit his job to protest police brutality after they fired rubber bullets, bean bag rounds and 150 canisters of teargas at protesters, and jailed several students on rioting charges.
“On the morning of June 12…I saw [the police] during breakfast…they seemed very excited. They were fully equipped, like a drawn arrow, ready to be fired.” Chui told VICE News. “I headed home at 10 a.m. after working overnight; however, I could not sleep at all. I couldn’t be serving the police force anymore.”
As a native Hongkonger with a wife and two daughters, he's worried about getting a new job, but he's more worried the current direction the government could threaten his family’s future.
“I want my daughters to grow up and live in a safer and freer place. I don’t want Hong Kong to become the mainland,” Chui told VICE News. “I have two requests for the government: Firstly, do not charge these students with riot offenses. Secondly, retract the draconian law of the China extradition bill.”
Video edited by Jeb Banegas
This segment originally aired on June 18, 2019, on VICE News Tonight on HBO