Deputy defends liaison office's role to nominate torch-bearers

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 26 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 26 April, 2008, 12:00am

A top official from the central government's liaison office in Hong Kong has defended its right to recommend torch-bearers for the Olympic torch relay in Hong Kong after it was criticised for interfering in the city's affairs.

The defence came two days after Timothy Fok Tsun-ting, president of the Sports Federation and Hong Kong Olympic Committee, revealed the liaison office had played a role in deciding the list of torch-bearers.

Liaison office deputy director Li Gang said it was asked by the Beijing Organising Committee for the Olympic Games, which was entitled to nominate some of the torch-bearers in all the countries and regions joining the torch relay, to submit a list of torch-bearers to the Hong Kong Olympic Committee.

'What we do is in line with all the procedures required by the International Olympic Committee, and the accusation of interference is totally groundless,' Mr Li said.

A total of 120 torch-bearers will take part in the Hong Kong leg of the torch relay next Friday. Twelve will be nominated by the Games' organising committee in Beijing, 24 by relay sponsors, and 84 by the Sports Federation and Hong Kong Olympic Committee.

The names of those chosen are expected to be announced on Tuesday.

The Civil Human Rights Front announced yesterday that it would stage protests along the route of the torch relay to alert the international community to Hong Kong people's demand for democracy.

Four Danish activists, led by sculptor Jens Galschiot who created the Pillar of Shame to commemorate the June 4 Tiananmen crackdown, will also arrive in the city today to prepare for protests calling for improved human rights on the mainland.

The group will join the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China in a demonstration during the relay.

During their 11-day stay in Hong Kong, the activists will also repair the pillar, located at University of Hong Kong, and participate in a Labour Day demonstration on Thursday.

HKU philosophy student Christina Chan Hau-man, who has used the internet to publicise a planned demonstration during the torch relay, met police yesterday to discuss her plan.

She said after the half-hour meeting with two officers at Western Police Station that she had been offered assistance and protection during the protest but that she had not accepted it.

By yesterday afternoon, 50 people had said they would join the protest and another 54 said they might attend.