Hong Kong police solicit tips via Whatsapp hotline

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A pedestrian takes pictures with his mobile phone as riot police stand guard at a footbridge. Philip FONG / AFP

The Hong Kong police said on Tuesday that 10 anti-violence hotlines have been launched as unrest entered its third month.

According to the police, the hotlines are solely dedicated to receiving anti-violence information, including photos, audio and video clips via WhatsApp to assist in the prevention and detection of crime.

At a daily press conference, Senior Superintendent Chan Chi-yung of Information Systems Wing of the Hong Kong Police Force said that the hotlines do not request the personal data of the informants.

In August, authorities announced that they would offer $25,000 -$125,000 to tipsters who provided information through a website which would lead to the arrest of “wanted” anti-government protesters.

The call came after an August 3 incident when an individual removed a Chinese flag near Tsm Sha Tsui Star Ferry terminal and threw it into the sea, according to the Hong Kong Free Press.

“We come from different sectors of society, and we hope Hong Kong can return to calmness as soon as possible. The rewards come from the public entirely and we will crowdfund in the future,” the website said.

Meanwhile, Senior Superintendent Wong Wai-shun of Operations Wing noted that violence by radical protesters has escalated, and their targets include people with different views, police stations and public facilities.

Police claimed that given the serious threat to public security, they consider it necessary to equip off-duty police officers with appropriate equipment to enable them to protect the public more effectively in case of an emergency, said Wong.

As to the recent vandalism by rioters at several Mass Transit Railway (MTR) stations, Senior Superintendent Kong Wing-cheung of Public Relations Branch said the police will maintain close contact with the MTR Corporation, step up the collection of information on planned rallies and deploy police forces according to the situation.

On September 11, Hong Kong’s Crisis Management Office (GGCT) reminded travellers that it had never issued a warning for travellers to avoid visiting the city.

Several social media posts falsely claimed that the GGCT had urged residents of Macau to avoid non-essential travel to Hong Kong.

“In relation to recent comments posted on social media platforms claiming that the Tourism Crisis Management Office appealed to Macao residents to avoid non-essential travel to Hong Kong, the GGCT declares that it did not issue any appeal of such nature.

“GGCT also declares that the Macao Special Administrative Region Travel Alert System covers 77 countries and destinations, for the specific cases of Mainland China and Hong Kong, as they are part of the same homeland these destinations are not covered by the system,” it said.

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