I find it deeply troubling that someone just tried to murder a police officer in Hong Kong and hardly anyone seems to be bothered much, as we all move on to the next cycle of news about mass protests and anti-government campaigns.
Three masked men ambushed the 45-year-old officer at Kwai Fong MTR station late on Friday night while he was heading home after work. They knifed him repeatedly in a vicious, cowardly attack, inflicting bone-deep wounds, and fled the scene.
Over more than 12 weeks of relentless guerilla warfare waged against police by rioters, radicals, hooligans, juvenile delinquents and common criminals sheltering under the broader umbrella of a supposedly peaceful people's uprising, frontline officers have been felled by bricks, burned by petrol bombs and acid, beaten unconscious with sticks and metal rods, stabbed with spears, and hit by ball bearings fired from catapults.
But the attempted murder of this policeman takes it to a whole new level. If the perpetrators are indeed part of the protest movement, it's terrifying that they no longer feel the need to be confined by its narrative. No heat-of-the-moment violence here – just calculated, cold-blooded crime.
And if the culprits turn out to be triad gangsters disguised as protesters to settle old scores, the wider implications for law and order are just as terrifying.
None of this should come as a surprise, really. Just look at all the hate forums online, particularly LIHKG, Hong Kong's version of Reddit, with page after page of discussion threads and tutorials on how to maim and kill police officers, when and where to lie in wait for them, what weapons to use. It's all there, in plain sight, and absolutely nothing is being done to muzzle it because any attempt to shut it down feeds right into the mass hysteria about repression and diminishing freedoms here. Our government is too timid to bite the bullet.
Look at every police station and government office across Hong Kong these days, barricaded like Masada under perpetual siege, because they're such magnets for arson attacks and vandalism.
Have you noticed you hardly see police officers around the city any more? That's because they've suspended foot patrols and scaled down regular policing. Can you blame them? Warriors of freedom have been openly discussing plans over the popular messaging app Telegram to ambush officers by luring them into traps with fake emergency calls.
So great is the hatred against the 31,000-strong police force, so deep the animosity, that officers are handing out rape alarms to their children to protect them from bullying and physical assaults when they return to school for the new academic year.
As I write this, I'm watching television footage of our police officers in action right now, battling another rabid mob baying for their blood. Their dinky little shields and batons seem as ineffective as their pepper spray and tear gas against the alarmingly expanding arsenal of makeshift and real weapons that protesters are armed with.
How much longer can police keep this up and hold the line while our government cowers behind them and makes little bleating sounds about not tolerating violence while doing exactly that? After three months of carnage and anarchy, there is no hint of a political solution to a crippling crisis that the government itself started, no whiff of a remedy, only whiny, pathetic rhetoric.
We all know what comes next if our police force is defeated in this great "revolution of our times". Beijing is making no bones about the nuclear option of deploying Chinese troops in the city, and yet the message from the rioters is, "Bring it on."
"If we burn, you burn with us," they keep telling the rest of us. This is going to be one inferno that those shiny, new, police water-cannon trucks will not be able to put out. Talk about a damp squib.
Yonden Lhatoo is the chief news editor at the South China Morning Post
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