Li Keqiang

Policing of Li visit to HKU defended

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 08 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 08 February, 2012, 12:00am


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Controversial security measures for last year's visit to the University of Hong Kong by Vice-Premier Li Keqiang were defended by police in the legislature yesterday.

Describing the visit on August 18 as extraordinary, the force's director of operations, Paul Hung Hak-wai, said the decision to tighten security came after a police risk assessment.

'It was not a matter of an ordinary protest or the rights of protesters,' Hung said at the meeting of the Legislative Council.

But his comments brought immediate criticism from lawmakers. Audrey Eu Yuet-mee said police seemed to have assumed protesters would harm the visitors. 'The problem was that the vice-premier couldn't even see the protesters,' she said. '[Did] you take into account the rights of protests when you considered the safety of visitors?'

Pan-democrats said a police report into the incident failed to provide constructive proposals and called on the authorities to revise and resubmit it.

'The report is full of words such as improving communications,' Lee said. 'Does it mean that next time the public will receive the message about what they can't do?'

Hung denied there was a need to resubmit the report.

A separate report by a university review panel, released last week after a four-month inquiry, found police used unjustifiable and unreasonable force to contain protesters.

Li's arrival led to a lockdown and takeover of the campus by police, in which some student protesters were confined in a stairwell.

Legislator James To Kun-sun said the HKU report indicated police tried to ban the use of loudspeakers.

He said it was the first documented proof that police had banned the use of loudspeakers in protests since the handover. Protesters have complained that as a result, Li could hardly hear their voices.