Protest march told to bypass Li Ka-shing's headquarters

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 May, 2011, 12:00am


Organisers of a demonstration against the dominance of Hong Kong's property developers say police have told them to avoid passing the headquarters of Asia's richest man, tycoon Li Ka-shing, amid fears over public security.

Nine organisations are taking part in this Sunday's march, including Green Sense, the Civic Party and Mei Foo Sun Chuen residents fighting a high-rise building plan.

A representative of the groups taking part says officers involved in negotiations over the route said it would be prudent not to pass the Cheung Kong Center in their protest against so-called property hegemony.

Roy Tam Hoi-pong, president of Green Sense, was keen to stress that police had in no way exerted pressure on him or his group during negotiations over the route.

However, he said: 'They do want us to march along the most prudent route which skips Cheung Kong - given the recent clashes during protests involving Cheung Kong.

'We considered passing through the Cheung Kong Center, but safety is a concern,' adding that he was sure members of the groups would protest peacefully.

Last night, in response to the South China Morning Post, a police spokesman did not answer a direct question about the organiser's Cheung Kong Center route claims.

'We have received an application and negotiations with the organisers are ongoing. We respect the right to freedom of expression and will assist all lawful and peaceful public processions,'' the spokesman said.

The headquarters of Cheung Kong (Holdings) in Central has been the target of a series of protests against property hegemony. Early last month, young members of the Civic Party staged a three-day protest outside the building, protesting against the city's high land-price policy.

Protesters at another rally in March threw paper bank note offerings at the building.

While Tam said the organisers would make a final decision in the next two days, they confirmed that the protesters - whose number is expected to reach 1,000 - would march from Chater Garden to the Central Government Offices.

They plan to stop and boo at the New World Tower and the west wing of the Central Government Offices.

'We will shout at the offices of [Secretary for Development] Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and [Secretary for Transport and Housing] Eva Cheng for their inability to curb land hegemony,' said Tam, referring to unscrupulous property construction and sale tactics, including building high-rise walled buildings that jeopardise air quality.

They will also hold placards protesting against the MTR Corp's current property development policy, which they argue is harmful to community development.

They will make another stop at the headquarters of New World Development to protest against its involvement in high-rise projects in Mei Foo Sun Chuen, which have sparked rows with nearby residents.

Mei Foo resident Johnny Cheung Chi-yin said: 'We are not radical but we have no alternative but to strive for communication with the developer to express opposition.'

Billy Leung Tak-yin, of co-organiser the Professional Teachers' Union, said pupils of four Yuen Long schools affected by a recent MTR plan to build walled housing would also join the march.