A sign of the desperate times for Queen's Pier protesters

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 July, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 29 July, 2007, 12:00am

Protesters fighting to keep Queen's Pier at its original site last night switched on a rooftop light display that spells out SOS, ahead of a meeting with the development chief today.

Activists erected the sign as part of a ramped-up protest that also includes a hunger strike by three activists that started on Friday.

Despite rising tensions, Secretary for Development Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said yesterday she was not concerned about meeting protesters at the pier.

'It is the people around me and my family who are worried,' she said. 'I am not concerned though. It is a way of communicating [with the protesters] and I have done similar things in the past.'

Although she has insisted the pier must be taken down by the end of the month so that reclamation work can start, Mrs Lam said she had high expectations for the meeting.

She said it could serve as an important platform for the two sides to communicate over future projects.

'The open forum ... can hopefully be a platform through which our communications can be enhanced. It will be a meaningful occasion,' she said.

But she said she did not always agree with the way protesters were expressing their attachment to the pier.

Earlier, the hunger strikers vowed not to eat until the government agreed to preserve the pier. 'A lot of friends came to visit me at the pier and they also brought along energy drinks. But I had to refuse them,' said Karden Chan Ka-yuen, 25, the only female hunger striker.

Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun said last night he supported the cause of the activists but urged them to treasure their health.

'If my appeal is of any use, I very much hope that they would not hurt themselves like this. I support their goal, but they should also value their body,' he said.

Legislator Audrey Eu Yuet-mee, of the Civic Party, brought flowers to the hunger strikers yesterday but refused to say if she supported them, saying only that she was worried about their health.

'As a legislator, I do not want to see unhappy things happening. We will try to work on something that can facilitate communications between the two sides,' she said.

At noon today, Mrs Lam will attend an open forum held by RTHK at the pier.

Two hours later she will be at another open forum held by the protesters.

At that meeting, two representatives from the pier's concern groups, a member from Local Action - which organised the forum - and a town planner will also speak.

The government has said the pier will be dismantled and stored near an explosives depot on Lantau Island before a permanent site is chosen for it.

Pier pressure

Activists are using banners and a hunger strike and working on lights to blaze SOS from the historic pier's roof

Number of months the protest against moving Queen's Pier has lasted: 3