Macau police prepare show of force despite low risk of protests

PUBLISHED : Friday, 02 May, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 02 May, 2008, 12:00am

Macau police are pulling out all the stops to guard the Olympic torch relay tomorrow, despite a 'low risk' of disruptive protests on the last leg before the flame enters the mainland.

Deputy Commissioner Ma Io-kun said as many as 2,200 officers would be mobilised in the former Portuguese enclave and no one from the Public Security Police Force would be allowed to take leave tomorrow.

'We haven't got any information that any person or group will protest,' Mr Ma said. 'We believe the risks are low but we are stepping up communication with police forces in neighbouring regions.'

Asked if people sporting pro-Tibet T-shirts or banners would be taken away, Mr Ma said the police might act if they caused 'disturbances' or 'chaos'.

Macau Olympic Committee vice-president Manuel Silverio called for mutual respect among relay supporters and possible protesters. The torch will arrive at the city's airport at 10.20pm and the relay will start at 3.30pm at Fisherman's Wharf.

Wushu athlete Leong Hong-man will be the first of the 120 torch-bearers and legislator Leong Heng-teng will be the last. Macau Chief Executive Edmund Ho Hau-wah will attend the starting ceremony.

The relay, originally planned to cover 37km and last eight hours, has been cut to 27km in 31/2 hours.

Mr Silverio said the organisers had scrapped a few breaks to make the relay smoother and save the trouble of providing thousands of lunches.

He said Macau's 'most special' fireworks display would take place after the relay in a 15-minute show starting at 8pm.