- Protesters are planning to launch a campaign to boycott shopping malls owned by Hong Kong’s biggest developer
- SHKP reiterates it did not call police and was unaware of their deployment in upmarket mall
Hong Kong's biggest developer is facing a backlash from anti-government protesters who hold it responsible for clashes on Sunday between them and police in the group's flagship mall in Sha Tin.
Protesters are planning to launch a campaign to boycott shopping malls owned by Sun Hung Kai Properties (SHKP).
The company reiterated on Monday it did not call police and was unaware of their deployment and dispersal operation in the New Town Plaza shopping centre in advance.
The upscale mall, which has a direct link to the Sha Tin MTR station, was the scene of pitched battles when riot police entered the building to disperse extradition bill protesters who had left the streets after a stand-off. Police went to the mall with a search warrant on Monday evening.
An SHKP spokesman said the mall's service office received a police notice in the afternoon that the force had got a court-issued warrant to request CCTV footage from Sunday. The spokesman said the firm's legal counsel had advised them to comply.
While protesters blamed the developer for calling police on Sunday, a law enforcement source said the mall management was "uncooperative" during a pre-protest risk assessment meeting.
"They did not seem to welcome police. We asked if they needed help and they said no. We asked them for a floor plan of the mall and they declined. We asked if some shops should be closed and they also said there was no need," he said.
An SHKP spokesman declined to comment on the issue. But in a statement on Monday, the company stressed it "had no prior knowledge of the police operation" inside the mall.
It "deeply regrets that the incident had caused a number of injuries in the shopping mall, as well as the inconvenience caused to customers, visitors and tenants".
Remaining unconvinced, users of a popular local online forum, LIHKG, were calling for a boycott of the firm's malls, while some also hinted they would target its properties during another protest planned for July 28 in Tseung Kwan O.
Hong Kong leader offers solace to injured police as protest violence intensifies
SHKP owns about 12 million sq ft of retail space across Hong Kong. There are 24 major shopping malls. The IFC Mall in Central is one of its prime sites.
There were also tense scenes between riot police and protesters in the Lucky Plaza mall, which was open for business as usual on Sunday.
A spokesman for operator Chinachem Group confirmed police had met with the management office of Lucky Plaza last weekend about Sunday's protest. The spokesman declined to go into details, saying only: "It is routine practice for any large public event."
Meanwhile, NeoDemocrat lawmaker Gary Fan Kwok-wai said he would write to the managements of malls along the route of the Tseung Kwan O rally to check if they would allow police in if scuffles broke out.
"I want to provide such information to residents beforehand so at least they will know where to go if they have to retreat," he said. "I just want to avoid conflicts."
Fan said what happened on Sunday " where protesters were trapped inside New Town Plaza " was undesirable and even "on the brink of death".
Major malls in Tseung Kwan O include East Point City, SHKP's Popwalk, Link Reit's Maritime Bay Shopping Mall and Nan Fung Plaza, Metro City Plaza of Henderson Land Development, and the MTR Corporation's PopCorn.
In a statement, Link Reit said: "We always put the safety of our customers and tenants as our top priority and … we are closely monitoring the situation."
But it noted that under the Police Force Ordinance, anyone in charge of a place had to allow officers "free ingress thereto and afford all reasonable facilities for search therein" if it was believed someone to be arrested had entered the premises.
"We continuously assess potential emergency scenarios and maintain close communications with all relevant stakeholders, including managers of nearby properties. We will take appropriate risk management measures as and when they are required," the statement said.
It also noted there were 24-hour passages within Maritime Bay and Nan Fung Plaza.
On possible service disruptions on July 28, an MTR spokesman said: "We are aware of the online information about this planned public activity. The corporation always strives to maintain safe and smooth operations at MTR stations.
"We will closely monitor the situation at stations and flexibly deploy manpower to maintain order. The team at PopCorn will also closely monitor public activity and implement relevant measures as necessary."
At around 10pm on Monday night, more than 50 Sha Tin residents went to the customer service desk in New Town Plaza to ask management why police were allowed to enter the private premises on Sunday before the chaos erupted. As of midnight, the crowd remained.
Additional reporting by Jeffie Lam and Karen Zhang
Copyright (c) 2019. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.查看原始文章