Balance is key to July 1: police chief

PUBLISHED : Monday, 04 June, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 04 June, 2007, 12:00am

The police chief yesterday admitted that it was not easy to balance people's right to protest with celebrations and daily life around the 10th anniversary of the handover.

With the July 1 celebrations looming, Police Commissioner Tang King-shing stressed the importance of public order and called on event organisers to talk with police well in advance to build up mutual trust.

He conceded that finding the right balance between protests and people's daily life was not easy.

'Protesters have their own objective and they want their voice to be heard. But don't forget people still have to continue their daily activities.

'Although people take to the streets to demonstrate or celebrate, there are people who still have to work on July 1. Vehicles are still running on the streets. How can we minimise the impact on each other?' he asked in an interview on Commercial Radio.

State leaders are expected to attend the anniversary celebrations later this month, while tens of thousands of people will participate in a large-scale street parade held by patriotic groups on July 1.

The Civil Human Rights Front is planning to use the annual July 1 march to fight for universal suffrage and civil liberties.

While the police would try to assist all parties, Mr Tang stressed the importance of early communication with the organisers.

He cited the protests during the World Trade Organisation meeting in 2005, in which the police had to liaise with local and foreign groups one year beforehand.

'If communication is left to the last minute, first, there is a lack of sincerity. Second, it may be too late to make further preparations,' he said.

Reviewing the law-and-order situation over the past decade, Mr Tang said crime rates were still at an acceptable level, with about 1,100 to 1,200 incidents per 100,000 people.

'The figures are among the best in the world. But, of course, we should not be complacent. When it comes to crime, one case is already too many.'