A plan for police to consult district councils on road closures and traffic diversion during mass protests has been rejected by pan-democrats, who accused the force of seeking an excuse to curb anti-government marches.
One speaker at a meeting of the Legislative Council security panel questioned whether the councils should have any role at all in public order affairs.
But Undersecretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu said police would consult the councils only on traffic arrangements, not whether an event should be approved.
Wan Chai district councillors said after the mass march on July 1 last year that they wanted police to consult them on possible traffic disruption during protests.
Yesterday Civic Party legislator Dennis Kwok Wing-hang said public order was beyond the remit of district councils. He cited Article 97 of the Basic Law that the councils are "to be responsible for providing services in such fields as culture, recreation and environmental sanitation".
Democrat James To Kun-sun said he did not believe the councils would offer fair views because they were dominated by pro-government members.
Independent legislator Paul Tse Wai-chun accused the pan-democrats of being unfair.
"We have always wanted the government to consult the people more and listen to different views," he said. "But when the government wants to do so, we criticise the government."
There are 18 district councils with 507 members of whom 412 are directly elected.
Meanwhile, the organisers of the New Year's Day march said yesterday they would lodge a complaint against the police with the Independent Police Complaints Council over the way the officers handled protesters.