Runway forum erupts in confrontation

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 03 July, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 03 July, 2011, 12:00am


A public forum on the proposal to build a third airport runway erupted in confrontation yesterday when supporters and opponents clashed.

Security guards rushed to create a human wall to protect a panel of speakers.

More than 200 people turned up to the two-hour forum in Kowloon Tong, which was hosted by the Airport Authority as part of a three-month public consultation process for its 2030 master plan. The authority argues that a third runway at the existing Chek Lap Kok airport is necessary for Hong Kong's future as a world city.

An eight-member panel, chaired by Baptist University journalism lecturer Lau Chi-kuen, made a series of presentations on the technical and environmental aspects of the expansion plan.

Attendees were only allowed to ask questions if they pre-nominated and if their name was drawn out of a box. Most speakers who addressed the panel were proposal supporters, something which angered Green Sense president Roy Tam Hoi-pong.

Tam arrived at the forum late because he attended a similar event across town at which Executive Council convenor Leung Chun-ying was speaking.

He said staff initially refused to let him in, citing his late arrival, but he eventually gained access to the forum, where he called out and interrupted people who were addressing the panel.

'It's not my style, but the arrangement for speakers was a lucky draw so all I could do was stand and shout,' he said after the forum.

After the last participant addressed the panel, Tam and a group of protesters clashed with a large group of supporters who were brandishing printed placards.

Dozens of security guards were called in to protect the panel of speakers, which included Airport Authority executive director of airport operations Howard Eng Kiu-chor, National Air Traffic Services development manager Paul Johnson, Hong Kong Shippers' Council executive director Sunny Ho Lap-kee and legislative councillor Paul Tse Wai-chun.