About 300 protesters gathered at Kwai Fong MTR station at around 10pm last night to demand the MTR Corp explain how they will respond to an unprecedented scene on Sunday night that saw officers fire tear gas inside the crowded station.
Some protesters brought along banners and surrounded station staff and an MTR representative, calling on the MTR to condemn the police for the action — which violated the tear gas manufacturer’s warnings — and to “completely” clean the station’s ventilation system, Ming Pao reports.
One protester could be seen in an Apple Daily livestream asking MTR staff to explain why the police were allowed into the station. As the staffer began to respond that “it all happened in a split second,” he was immediately shouted down by protesters.
Allen Ding Ka-chu, the deputy general manager of the MTR operation department, arrived at the station and told protesters that the MTR Corp was highly concerned about the incident and had raised their concerns to the police force.
The ventilation system had already been cleaned, and the MTR will have experts look into the case and closely monitor the air quality in stations, he added.
The incident on Sunday night took place after police chased a group of protesters who had swarmed a nearby police station into the MTR, following them into the station and firing tear gas rounds into the paid concourse area.
Police later defended the action, claiming the MTR station was a “semi-outdoor” space, but critics were quick to call out the force for creating a “gas chamber” indoors, and questioned whether the operation had posed a danger to passengers and staff.
Representatives from the MTR met with senior police management on Monday afternoon, and “conveyed to them our concern over the incident” and “urged them to take the safety of MTR staff and passengers into account during their law-enforcement actions,” the SCMP reports.
Rail unions also met with the MTR management to raise concerns about staff safety.
According to Tam Kin-chiu, vice-chairman of the Hong Kong Federation of Railway Trade Unions, the company had promised to deploy double manpower to affected stations on the days of protests and to step up protections for frontline staff, including providing protective gear like helmets and gas masks.