- Two days after the late-night brutality at MTR station, life in the northern town returns to normal, but residents remain wary
- Most point blame at police for what they see as failure to protect the public
Shops and businesses have reopened in the Hong Kong district that was the scene of unprecedented violence on Sunday night, but residents say they have lost all faith in the city's police.
Shoppers and children returned to malls in Yuen Long on Tuesday, a day after a shutdown turned the New Territories neighbourhood into a ghost town following attacks by rod-wielding men who targeted random commuters and protesters against the now-suspended extradition bill.
An air of anxiety still lingered, however. Restaurant Hok Kee Congee & Noodles, which has been operating at the heart of the district for decades, was one of the businesses that resumed operations after a partial closure on Monday. Manager Ezra Lam, 26, said they lost about HK$17,000 in revenue.
Lam said he had lost trust in police's ability to protect residents in case violence breaks out again.
"Those men in white T-shirts beat people everywhere and no one was stopping them at all."
Those men in white T-shirts beat people everywhere and no one was stopping them at allEzra Lam, restaurant manager
Officers were accused of turning a blind eye to the incident at 10.45pm on Sunday night and colluding with triads, believed to be behind the attacks at Yuen Long MTR station.
The force has denied this, citing the need for backup when two officers at the scene realised they were ill-equipped to handle the situation, on top of stretched manpower as their comrades battled protesters in the city centre following a third major march against the extradition bill.
The legislation would have allowed the transfer of fugitives to jurisdictions with which the city has no such agreement. Protesters want the complete withdrawal of the bill, among other demands, but the government has stood firm as weeks of rallies and demonstrations continue to rock the city.
On Sunday night, some protesters were returning to Yuen Long from Sheung Wan when white-clad men with sticks and metal rods stormed the railway station in the northern town, attacking commuters indiscriminately.
At least 45 people were injured and seven have been arrested over the incident, which raised tensions in the city and opened a new front in the escalating political crisis.
Anger at police and those behind the late-night attack led to protesters planning a march on Saturday in Yuen Long.
Moe Yu, 45, a shop manager at Book Castle in Yoho Mall, said he was worried about the coming demonstration.
"They may spill into shopping malls," Yu said. "I'm still thinking about whether to open the shop this weekend. We will decide later. Even if we open it, we will close immediately if crowds start coming in."
Yu added he had also lost trust in police whom he said had failed to protect residents on Sunday night.
"They only put on a show and arrested a few people last night. Where were they on the night the attacks happened?" he said.
They only put on a show and arrested a few people last night. Where were they on the night the attacks happened?Moe Yu, bookshop manager
On Tuesday at Yoho Mall, which is linked to the station where the attacks took place, residents, including the elderly were resting on benches while parents were seen with children and their domestic helpers as they shopped. Restaurants were also filled with diners.
Resident Kelvin Lee, 35, brought his son with him to shop for groceries.
"We did not come out yesterday as we heard there would be danger at around 3pm. But it seems like everything is OK today so I brought my son, who is on a summer break."
Lee also said shopping malls should be safe as there were security guards, but he would still look out for gathering crowds and did not intend to stay out late.
Andy Cheung, a 19-year-old part-time salesperson at a fashion boutique in Yoho Mall, reported for work in the afternoon.
"My parents were very worried. They said they would give me money and asked me not to go to work."
But Cheung insisted he was not concerned about safety issues in the district, and might join the weekend protest.
My parents were very worried. They said they would give me money and asked me not to go to workAndy Cheung, part-time sales staff
"I think the incident last Sunday was very ridiculous. Not that I was shocked about such things happening in Hong Kong, but it's the fact that there was no one to stop it."
Cheung said he hoped police would arrest all those involved and give a proper explanation about why they had arrived only after the mob had fled, or answer to the public over emergency calls that were reportedly not handled.
"I don't accept their explanation yesterday. There must be people here even though they had arranged for manpower on Hong Kong Island", he added.
Outside the malls at Castle Peak Road, a thoroughfare in the district, the owner of a dried seafood store said there were fewer people on the streets.
"We closed earlier at around 4pm yesterday and lost around a few thousand dollars compared to normal days. The atmosphere was quite tense in the district."
The woman, who declined to be named, said she would observe the situation over the weekend to decide if she should open her store.
Those people attacked residents on purpose. All we can do is to avoid wearing blackDried seafood store owner
"Those people attacked residents on purpose. All we can do is to avoid wearing black (the colour theme of protesters). I also rescheduled some of my children's activities to keep them safe," she said.
Yuki, 23, a staff member at a bubble tea store on the same road said he was not too worried about what would happen next.
"I believe the weekend protest will be peaceful, so we will continue to open our store," she said.
"I don't think police are helpful as they came really late that day. We also do not accept their apology."
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