Kimchi and kindness key factors
Patience, sincerity and kimchi were the ingredients of a police strategy to ensure the World Trade Organisation meeting ran smoothly, said one of the force's negotiators.
Senior Inspector Alan Chung, one of 25 officers to receive a commendation from the police chief yesterday for his performance in handling the WTO protests, said the negotiations with the Korean protesters were the longest in his decade doing the job.
'People think the most difficult part for us was during the week of the conference, but to me it was the preparation before it,' he said. 'We had to befriend the protesters, understand their needs, background and culture and help establish procession routes acceptable to both parties.'
Senior Inspector Chung said most of the overseas visitors - the bulk of them farmers from South Korea - had been quite hostile at the beginning, but their attitude had softened over time as they realised the police were sincere.
'Who cares wins. We brought them kimchi during our first few meetings to show friendliness, sort of breaking the ice,' the officer explained.
Despite the siege of Wan Chai on the night of December 17, there was goodwill between the two parties, Senior Inspector Chung said.
Some of the Koreans had sent e-mails and letters to the senior inspector and colleagues offering them accommodation if they go to South Korea.
Senior Inspector Chung admitted he was 'a bit unhappy' about the violent clash but was satisfied most protesters expressed their views peacefully. 'We knew before December 17 that they planned to take robust action towards the end of that day, but they wouldn't disclose what they planned to do.'
Another of the award recipients, Chief Inspector Chow Kwok-hee, who was in charge of Wan Chai North on the night, said the protesters were shrewd but not cunning.
IN THE LINE OF DUTY
Gear and officers deployed throughout the WTO conference, December 13-18, 2005
- 6 beanbag bullets
- 34 tear gas canisters
- 738 canisters of pepper spray
- 515 batons
- 9,000 police officers
Deployment inside the cordon area on December 17, 2005:
- More than 1,000 anti-riot police
- Tens of armoured vehicles
- Tens of trained dogs