Frontier's protest plans deflated

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 24 March, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 24 March, 2007, 12:00am

The Frontier's planned three-pronged protest via land, sea and air tomorrow over what it calls a 'farcical election' has been blunted by police, who have refused to give way on their restrictions.

Police have forbidden the flying of a helium balloon carrying a large protest banner near the election centre, and refused to shrink the restricted area in waters surrounding the airport venue, rendering the approach of a protest boat meaningless. A helium balloon bought for more than HK$ 10,000 and which was to fly over the Tsim Sha Tsui Cultural Centre, has also been grounded for safety reasons.

What had been thought the group's one sure means of protest - a slow drive by 20 vehicles around the AsiaWorld Expo centre - is also under threat after 10 of the drivers unexpectedly phoned to say they did not want to wake up so early.

The slow drive will depart from Tsing Yi for Chek Lap Kok at 7.15 am.

The Frontier is now left with an assembly space around 800 metres from the entrance to the exhibition centre, and an area outside the Cultural Centre for protest events around noon. A boat with a modest protest banner on its side will also circle the harbour.

Organisers said the helium balloon will still be inflated, and left on the ground, while they think of a way to hang their protest banner, measuring 17 metres by 16 metres.

Emily Lau Wai-hing, of The Frontier, said she had anticipated such obstacles.

'After all, the reason they are using AsiaWorld Expo all the way out at Chek Lap Kok is not just so only the small- circle elite can access the ballot box, but because they want to hide their shame and shield themselves from protests,' said Ms Lau.

'They want to make sure it looks like a happy day, that finally we have a contested election. But actually, it is a sad day for Hong Kong, that we still have an election that the public cannot take part in,' she said.