Key park gate to be left open for vigil
Ada Lee and Amy Nip
An entrance to Victoria Park that was closed to people attending the June 4 vigil last year will be left open on Monday night.
The closure of the entrance near Tin Hau MTR station last year brought complaints that it restricted access to the rallying point.
But Senior Superintendent Cheng Yiu-mo said yesterday the gate could be closed in an emergency.
He said any changes would be discussed first with the organisers, the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China. Last year the alliance accused the police of diverting the crowd to narrow, distant entrances to delay participants and limit their numbers.
Cheng said yesterday the Tin Hau gate provided emergency vehicle access and would be open until 8.30pm, half an hour after the candle-light vigil to remember the Tiananmen crackdown began, to cope with the expected big turnout. Participants were advised to enter through that gate and two entrances in Gloucester Road.
'There's some flexibility, but not really much,' Cheng said.
He said that if the number of people went beyond the gate's capacity, participants would have to queue in a car park in Hing Fat Street to await entry. The park's six soccer pitches must be filled before people could be diverted to the central lawn.
Kwan Chun-bong, a member of the alliance's executive committee, said he had suggested the police use a road next to Tin Hau station as a pedestrian zone to allow the crowds to enter the park with ease.
'We have no control over roads outside the park,' Kwan said. 'But most important of all, police should allow us to take responsibility for crowd control inside the venue.'
Over the years, volunteers had been responsible for crowd co-ordination during the vigil. It was not until last year that police took over the role and directed people to places deemed inappropriate by the organiser.
'If they try to do so again this year, we will not give up our power as easily,' Kwan said.
Organisers expect the vigil to draw more than last year's 150,000 people.
More than 30 members of the Federation of Students started a hunger strike outside Times Square in Causeway Bay yesterday to commemorate those killed in the crackdown. They will end the hunger strike at 8.45pm on Monday.