The actress was brutally assaulted by masked mobs and suffered multiple injuries, merely because she took photos of the rioters vandalizing a bank outlet.
“I’m just an ordinary resident who loves Hong Kong and listens to my conscience,” she said. “I don’t regret it. If I had a second chance, I would do the same!”
HONG KONG, Oct. 18 (Xinhua) — Even with 11 stitches on her head, Celine Ma still feels no regret.
The well-known Hong Kong actress was beaten up by masked mobs about two weeks ago after speaking out against the rioters’ acts of vandalism. Ma, famous for her vivid performance of hated characters, acted as a valiant heroine saying no to violence in reality.
“I’m just an ordinary resident who loves Hong Kong and listens to my conscience,” Ma told Xinhua in an exclusive interview on Wednesday.
“Looking back, I am still scared and my family and friends are worried about me. But I don’t regret it. If I had a second chance, I would do the same!” she said.
As the unrest in Hong Kong entered the fifth month, rioters who glorified themselves as “freedom and democracy fighters” brutally assaulted people who hold different opinions with them, either in streets, on trains or at shopping malls, the exact opposite of what they claimed to pursue.
Ma, over 50, stood out against their ferocity in the evening of Oct. 6.
She was about to go home by minibus after shopping in Mong Kok, Kowloon. However, a large group of black-clad protesters wearing face masks were setting up roadblocks, so she decided to take the subway. On her way to the metro station, Ma saw three masked rioters trashing the ATMs of an outlet of Bank of China.
Taking photos of what they were doing may have a “deterrent” effect on their actions, Ma thought. “If they got scared, they would probably walk away.” So Ma started to film the vandalism with her phone.
The rioters were indeed scared. But instead of stopping or leaving, they dashed to her and snatched her phone. Ma chased them for about 100 meters to get her phone back, only to find that it was crushed on the ground.
Then she was outnumbered and surrounded. One rioter sprayed her in the face with unknown liquid; one kicked her down to the ground; one hit her with an umbrella; one wearing special gloves punched her in the chin. More and more masked rioters gathered around her, shouting obscenities at her.
Later at hospital, she had four stitches on her chin and seven on the back side of her head. The doctor said the wound in her chin was caused by knife-like object. “I recalled that the man in black who punched me in the chin wore gloves, but I still have no idea what were in those gloves.”
Hong Kong actress Celine Ma’s face was bleeding after she was beaten by rioters in Kowloon, Hong Kong, Oct. 6, 2019. (Xinhua)
Ma was spared from more serious injuries thanks to Robert Ovadia, a journalist and news anchor working for 7News Australia, who stepped in between her and the attackers and escorted her to a nearby police station, all the way through crowds of rioters.
Ovadia criticized the acts of the masked rioters days later on Facebook.
“She had no less right to protest than they (masked rioters) did, but because of it a solitary woman surrounded by an angry mob (championing ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’) was sprayed in the face, punched, shoved to the ground and had a glass bottle smashed over her head,” Ovadia said. “I have seen other instances – more brutal – of people speaking out and getting assaulted.”
The journalist was shocked by the distortion of facts by some local media outlets, even naming and shaming Apple Daily, a popular local tabloid specialized in cooking up fake news and rumors, in particular against the government and police.
“Organizations like Apple Daily, which has specific links to the ‘pro-democracy’ protesters, deliberately edit videos out of context to alter their audience’s impression of what happened, to make it seem like she attacked protesters first,” Ovadia said. “Apple Daily starts its sequence with Ms Ma defending herself, making her look like the aggressor and that became the narrative for so many.”
“I have never seen disinformation weaponized with such venom as my time in Hong Kong,” Ovadia said.
But Ovadia did not expect what would follow after he spoke out the truth.
The journalist fell victim to doxxing, a torrent of abuse online and death threats, just like many other Hong Kong residents who did not agree with the use of violence by rioters. “My name and picture were circulated among protesters and intelligence sources informed us we were to be targeted by these ‘peaceful protesters.'”
Ovadia said he received a flood of communication from people thanking him for unbiased coverage, but only doing so in private messages. “They say, because they don’t want to fall victim to the angry mob either.”
“One has to wonder what sort of democracy they (mobs) are trying to preserve,” he said.
“I’ve got him (Ovadia) in trouble,” Ma said apologetically.
“In this case, what some Hong Kong media did is really disappointing. I hope they will stop making unfair reports and hurting people,” Ma said.
Talking about the continued violence in Hong Kong, Ma said she was saddened and called on those young rioters to stop and look back at what they had done. “Hong Kong’s future is your future, and how can you have the heart to destroy your own future?”
Ma said the young people were deceived and instigated and teachers and parents should shoulder the responsibility to convey right views to them and let them know that violence could only make things worse, not better.
During the past months, Ma has repeatedly expressed her support for Hong Kong police, who, as the defender of peace and justice, suffered from unreasonable accusations and faced huge pressures. “Under the circumstance, we especially need to support them and let them know Hong Kong residents are with them,” she said.
Later this month, Ma will start to play a senior inspector of police in a TV series. Ma said she was excited for the opportunity and hoped her performance could show more tolerance and understanding on the part of the police.
As an actress, Ma has been to the mainland for multiple times and advised Hong Kong youngsters to learn more about their home country.
“There are many beautiful cities in the mainland that have developed transportation and advanced technology. There have been drastic changes from the past,” Ma said.
“Hong Kong young people should know the history and culture of China and the country’s hard-won development. They should be proud of being Chinese. We are all Chinese, with the same blood, which cannot be erased,” Ma said.■