Hong Kong pro-police actor remains firm after targeted by rioters
For TVB actor Mat Yeung, handshakes and photo-taking with fans at his soup restaurant in Wan Chai are common.
But not until recently had Yeung felt enormous popularity probably unseen in his 20 years of performing career. In just a few minutes, about 10 diners came up, gave him thumbs up and took selfies with him even after lunchtime.
"I did not anticipate that and it has never happened before," Yeung said.
It was not some new TV series or box news that have put him under the spotlight, but his voice of support for the true defender of peace and safety in Hong Kong amid seven months of turmoil -- Hong Kong police officers.
Even at the most volatile time, Yeung made no secret of his attitude. He frequently posted group photos with police officers and openly expressed gratitude to their hard work on social media platforms.
Along with several other celebrities, Yeung visited police headquarters and cheered police officers on in December.
Rioters, irritated, trashed his restaurants for revenge. They smashed windows, damaged CCTVs and spray-painted doors with graffiti. Yeung said he personally received threatening phone calls and malicious comments on the internet and was informed of an upsurge of complaints about food security and fire fighting devices by authorities.
Over the past months, the total turnover of Yeung's restaurants dropped by about 30 percent.
But Yeung remained firm with his stance. "Whether the business is good or not doesn't bother me, but I am very sad that rioters became more and more violent in streets and more common people got hurt."
"At this time, business is not that important anymore. Now it's the struggle for humanity that matters, we must return to humanity. I feel that in the past months, humanity is lost in Hong Kong."
Yeung said he could not sleep at night after watching the live broadcast that a man trying to remove a barricade on the road was knocked unconscious by a masked rioter with a sewage cover-like object. "The Hong Kong where I was born and grew up was a place full of love. But that Hong Kong has gone."
With shops trashed and residents beaten up, the violence has been escalating in Hong Kong since June. A 70-year-old street cleaner died in November after being hit by a brick thrown by a rioter, and a construction worker was set ablaze for criticizing rioters' vandalism in a metro station.
It was the police who actually protected Hong Kong residents over the past months, Yeung said.
"I can see our selfless police officers work so hard to protect us," Yeung said. "However, some people kept smearing them and cooking up fake news to mislead the public."
There are still a large number of people in Hong Kong who support the police but do not know how to express themselves or dare not speak out their opinions, Yeung said. "I came across an elderly lady on the street one day, who rushed to me, grabbed my hand, and told me with tears that I spoke out what she wanted to say."
Yeung urged more Hong Kong people to disassociate themselves with violence and voice their support for police officers.
"We need more people to stand out bravely and say no to violence," Yeung said. "Now is year 2020, I hope demonstrators can use modern, civilized means to express their opinions and requests instead of primitive ways."
"Only when unrest ends can we rebuild our home and bring back our peaceful lives. And then Hong Kong will recover very fast just like many other hardships we went through before," he said.