Macau, China, 3 May – Macau’s Worker Union representatives and Public Security Police (PSP) Commissioner Lei Siu Peng blasted each other Sunday for starting the violence that marred Saturday’s Labour Day protest.
Around 1,000 people, among them many jobless workers, took to the street on Saturday calling for fair employment opportunities and slamming the government’s policies on imported and illegal labour
Violence erupted at an intersection on Rua da Ribeira do Patane, as police used pepper spray and two water cannons to stop protesters trying to deviate from the pre-arranged route, and enter the city’s central thoroughfare Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro , which on Saturday was packed with tourists taking advantage of the mainland’s three-day Labour Day holiday.
According to a statement released by the Health Bureau (SSM)Sunday, a total of 16 people, comprising two journalists, four passers-by, four protesters and six police officers, were rushed to the public Conde de Sao Januario Hospital Saturday’s riot.
The SSM statement said that a female photojournalist from the Portuguese wire service Lusa was admitted with a cheekbone fracture and concussion, along with a male passerby aged around 60 years suffering from minor concussion, were in a stable condition yesterday, but were being held for observation, while the rest had been discharged from the hospital.
A police statement put the number of injured at 41, comprising "three members of the public," two journalists, four protesters and 32 policemen.The Fire Services Bureau (CB) put the number at 45.
According to The Macau Post Daily "protesters clamoured for the resignation of Secretary of Economy and Finance Francis Tarn Pak Yuen, and Secretary for Transport and Public Works Lau Si Io, decrying Tarn for failing to protect local workers and slamming Lau for failing to deliver on the government’s promise of public housing, accusing him of selling off public land for private uses after it was slated for public housing developments."
"The protestors brandished banners such as Let Macau residents share the economic harvest, and we need a job, we need housing, while others also unfurled the national flag and played the national anthem" the paper said.
PSP dispatched at least 350 police to control the riot. The Fire Services Bureau had sent some 20 ambulances and 170 firemen to the scene.
While protest organiser Lei Sio Kuan put the number of protesters at 1,000, PSP Commissioner Lei Siu Peng maintained there were only 800 protesters participating in the rally.
PSP Commissioner said in a press conference on Saturday that the police had been "highly self-controled" and only used "minimum" amounts of equipment to deal with protestors after they ignored direct orders from the police.
Lei also said that the protesters were blocked from entering Avenida Almeida Ribeiro because of its strategic importance as a thoroughfare through the city.
Saturday’s May Day protest was one of the most violent demonstrations in the past three decades in Macau.