I REFER to your article 'Anger over MacLehose war zone' (Sunday Morning Post, May 14).
I confirm that the police have, in the past, occasionally used the lower coffer dam at High Island to practise firing tear-smoke. This is done by Police Tactical Unit personnel under training.
Firing is always conducted under the strict supervision of qualified instructors and with land and sea cordons in place to ensure public safety.
Upon completion, a sweep is conducted to collect all spent munitions. (A further search of areas used by police was conducted on the day before your article appeared, and revealed no discarded items).
It is acknowledged that this is not an ideal site and alternatives are constantly being sought. This is not easy in a crowded place like Hong Kong.
I should like to address the following points arising from your article: The munitions used contain a chemical gas solution and are not powder based. The 'mounds of yellow powder' did not therefore come from us.
The site used is nowhere near the MacLehose Trail, so walkers on the trail could not have been affected by police firing.
All firing is out to sea, in a prevailing offshore breeze, in which the gas will disperse leaving no residue.
The canisters held by the hiker in your accompanying picture are not the type issued to the police.
No police training took place there on January 21.
Notwithstanding the above, if any member of the public has at any time found themselves in a position where they were affected by tear-smoke, I should like to apologise for any distress caused. Lastly, all firing in this area has now ceased.
ERIC LOCKEYEAR for the Commissioner of Police