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Hong Kong faces travel chaos

Protesters prevent the doors of subway trains closing

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HONG KONG: Hong Kong's pro-democracy protesters are close to creating a "very dangerous situation", the city's leader warned Monday as train travel and international flights in the global financial hub were thrown into chaos.

The peak-hour efforts to lock down Hong Kong's transport sector on Monday morning followed two months of unprecedented and often violent unrest, fuelled by demands for greater democracy in the semi-autonomous Chinese city.

With commuters unable to get to work and international travellers facing delays, chief executive Carrie Lam held a press conference to warn protesters and signal authorities would not buckle under the growing pressure.

"(They) have seriously undermined Hong Kong's law and order and are pushing our city, the city that we all love and many of us helped to build, to the verge of a very dangerous situation," Lam said.

She spoke shortly after activists descended on key subway stations during the morning rush hour, deliberately keeping open doors to stop trains departing, crippling multiple lines and triggering occasional scuffles.

More than 100 flights at the city's airport -- one of the world's busiest -- were also listed as cancelled on Monday morning. 

Some key roads were also blockaded, causing traffic gridlock, as the protesters urged a general strike across the city.

The largely leaderless protest movement uses social messaging apps to coordinate.

But people from all walks of life indicated plans online to either strike or phone in sick on Monday -- from civil servants and social workers, to bus drivers and even employees of the city's Disneyland.

Many shops across the city were closed, including fashion outlets in the central commercial district like Topshop and Zara.

The protests were triggered by opposition against a planned law that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China.

It quickly evolved into a wider movement for democratic reform and a halt to eroding freedoms.

Vocabulary:

activists (noun): people who take part in activities that are intended to achieve political or social change, especially someone who is a member of an organisation - นักกิจกรรม

autonomous (adj): independent and having the power to make your own decisions - ซึ่งปกครองตนเอง

blockade : to stop someone/ something from moving through or along something else - ปิดกั้น, กีดขวาง

buckle (verb): to become crushed or bent under a weight or force; to crush or bend something in this way - ทำให้โค้งงอ

chaos : a situation in which everything is confused and in a mess - การจราจล

cripple (verb): to prevent from working properly; to paralyse; to damage - ทำให้พิการ; ทำให้ใช้การไม่ได้

extradition : sending someone accused of a crime back to the country where the crime was committed for trial or punishment - การส่งผู้ร้ายข้ามแดน

opposition : strong disagreement with a plan or policy - ความขัดแย้ง

peak (adj): the time when something is at its highest or greatest level - ช่วงเวลาที่หนาแน่น, ช่วงเวลาที่พบมากที่สุด

phone in sick : to call your employer to tell them you will not be able to go to work as you are unwell -

pressure : to try to make someone do something by forcing, threatening, or persuading them in a determined way - กดดัน

scuffle : a short and sudden fight, especially one involving a small number of people - การต่อสู้กันอุตลุด

trigger : to cause - ก่อให้เกิด กระตุ้น

undermine : to make someone become gradually less effective, confident, or successful - บ่อนทำลาย

unprecedented : never having happened before - ที่ไม่เคยเกิดขึ้นมาก่อน

unrest : angry or violent behaviour by people who are protesting or fighting against something - สถานการณ์ที่ไม่สงบ

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