The last day of August should be like any other day in the hot summer. It is the time when parents, teachers and students are all busy preparing for the new school year starting in September. However, since mid-2019, society had become polarised and ill-intentioned people had been intent on starting rumours. These had precipitated an incident in which a usually hectic MTR station was turned into a mourning altar, where some people gave out white flowers, some claimed to have witnessed deadly force being used, and some even insisted they had seen the ghosts of “the deceased”. Indeed, it is never easy to prove the non-existence of something fictitious. In the age of social media, the use of algorithms by different platforms has given rise to phenomena such as “exclusive camps formed by like-minded people” and “echo chamber”, meaning that people choose to accept only opinions similar to their own and shut out alternative beliefs. Such mindsets have in fact exacerbated the spread of rumours, making it even harder to debunk untruths.
As the proverb goes, “You can’t wake a person who is pretending to be asleep.” Although no corpses had ever been found, people with deep-seated preconceived notions were adamant that some people had been beaten to death. Even though multiple Government departments had clarified the incident, people who refused to “wake up” continued to dismiss those explanations as a “cover-up”. Even though a report published by the Independent Police Complaints Council had classified the alleged killing of people by the Police inside the train station as an “extraordinary claim”, some people still chose to “believe” it. Determined to fuel the ongoing rumour, these people even made up far-fetched theories about the deaths of certain persons who had drowned at sea or jumped off a building, in an attempt to accuse the Police of “framing a deceased person for having committed suicide” or “disposing of a dead body after killing someone”.
A lie may fool some people for a while, but it cannot fool everyone forever. Given that bogus information, fake news and even acts of vilification are all over the place, the Police Public Relations Branch (PPRB), being the Force’s spokesperson, has been sparing no effort in verifying information from all sources, in a bid to defend colleagues against false accusations. In doing so, the PPRB has been harnessing the Force’s social media platforms to proactively clarify matters of public interest, issuing over 100 letters to media outlets to refute inaccurate news reports, enhancing transparency in policing, as well as introducing live broadcast teams which have filmed and live-streamed nearly 100 assemblies and scenes of clashes so far to show the public what really happened in such scenarios. Besides, the PPRB has been working with its community partners to build mutual trust between the Police and the public, and repair the channels for the Force to communicate with citizens and communities.
The rule of law is the cornerstone of Hong Kong. As police officers dutifully enforce the law and bring all lawbreakers to justice, they inevitably become the target of malicious attacks and smear campaigns that aim at nothing but undermining the Force’s credibility and compromising the effectiveness of law enforcement, and criminals are exactly the ones who stand to reap the most benefit. However, in the presence of the Hong Kong Police Force (HKPF), criminals can never get away with their wrongdoing. We do not see things as they are, we see things as we are — a righteous person sees no malice in everything, while a despicable person sees no good in anything. Moving forward, the HKPF will continue to enforce the law with utmost professionalism and resilience, in order to prove its unwavering devotion to duty through tangible actions and quash unfounded rumours with hard evidence, to ultimately help Hong Kong remain one of the safest and most stable societies in the world.