Dozens of Hong Kong’s MTR stations were damaged during protests over the weekend, with the most serious damage inflicted at the Tung Chung and Tsing Yi stations after a protest at the airport on Sunday.
On Sunday afternoon, more than 1,000 anti-extradition protesters blocked key roads connecting the airport and urban districts. At about 4pm on Sunday, some protesters threw iron rods, bricks and rocks onto the railway track near the Airport Station and some trespassed on the track, disrupting train services.
The Airport Express services from the airport to Hong Kong station were canceled at about 4.30pm. Manu protesters then walked from the airport to Tung Chung on Lantau Island.
The MTR had also suspended services at Tung Chung station and protesters smashed the gates and closed-circuit television cameras and drew graffiti on walls and signboards. They also broke glass windows, entered the station’s control room and damaged fire fighting facilities. The station was quickly flooded by water from the fire hoses.
At least 12 stations were damaged on Sunday, the MTR Corp said. The government, police and MTR Corp condemned the “violent behavior” of the protesters.
Authorities called for an end to the vandalism and violence, with Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan Fan calling on the public to stop the unruly behavior of protesters during a press conference on Monday.
Chan said the MTR Corp had already announced the suspension of its services in advance so passengers could plan their journeys or rearrange their meetings.
Chan said a total of 32 MTR stations had been damaged over the past two days, representing about one-third of all stations in the city. He added that it was normal for police to be stationed in MTR stations and said the public should not see the police as opponents.
Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-Chung said on Monday that it was sad to see that protesters had held an illegal assembly and that violence had escalated over the weekend. The government condemned the violence by protesters, Cheung said.
Some protesters also damaged facilities at the airport and MTR stations, affecting tourists and hurting the economy, he added. He added that it was unacceptable that some protesters took down a Chinese flag and burned it in Tung Chung as this challenged China’s sovereignty and the one country, two systems platform.
The government fully supported the police taking action and arresting the “criminals,” Cheung said.
At 5am on Monday, the MTR announced that all stations would open as usual. Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor thanked the MRT staff in a post on Facebook for repairing the damaged facilities in stations in order to let students and parents get to schools on Monday, the first school day of the new academic year.
Over the past few weeks, damage was done to many MTR stations as protesters were provoked by the train company’s decisions to suspend services at stations near protest sites. Protesters mocked the MTR Corp as the “(Chinese Communist) Party’s train,” which rhymes with “Kong’s train” in Cantonese.
They also said the MTR should not have allowed riot police to enter a train and attack passengers as they did in Prince Edward station on the evening of August 24.
On Monday, riot police were patrolling key MTR stations and major transit points, such as North Point, Kowloon Tong and Tiu Keng Leng, in a bid to stop people from holding protests or staging non-cooperation campaigns.
The MTR said several door obstruction incidents on the Kwun Tong line were reported but the disruptions to services were minor. Several people were arrested by police in Lok Fu and Lai King stations.