Ambiguous orders aren't new, police admit | South China Morning Post
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  • Mar 5, 2015
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Ambiguous orders aren't new, police admit

Ambiguous orders like those used in vice-premier's 2011 visit have been used before

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 February, 2013, 5:28am

Ambiguous police commands, such as to "pre-empt embarrassments" during the 2011 visit of Vice-Premier Li Keqiang's, were not new, the force admitted yesterday.

The admission came as a high-ranking force official yesterday told Legislative Council members on the security panel that these wordings - slammed by the Independent Police Complaints Commission last year - were confusing and unnecessary.

The police watchdog's investigation had found in December that the wordings of several orders were confusing and should be avoided.

The commands, given to frontline officers protecting Li on his visit in 2011, told them that apart from protecting Li's personal safety, they were to ensure events were conducted in a "smooth and dignified manner".

During the visits, journalists and a protester close to the vice-premier were either blocked or taken away.

Tang How-kong, director of the police's management services, was yesterday criticised over the inclusion of what lawmakers called anti-protester wordings in the police orders.

Questioned by Democrat lawmaker James To Kun-sun on whether similarly vague wordings had ever been used before Li's visit, Tang said: "In my understanding, the [answer] should be yes."

When asked if any officer should bear the responsibility for them, Tang answered defensively: "What's most important is that the whole operational order ... has no political motives."

Tang stressed that the wordings existed only in certain district-level operational commands. The police, he said, "agreed that these wordings, first, could lead to confusion of frontline colleagues and, second, were unnecessary".

The Legco meeting came days after Police Commissioner Andy Tsang Wai-hung challenged the watchdog's comments that stalls erected along the route of the New Year's Day protest march - against a police ban - did not disrupt the flow of marchers.

Tsang had asked the watchdog for discussion, but he did not show up at the meeting.

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