Occupy Central

Occupy Central plan 'may ruin city's image at Apec ministerial meeting'

Legislators fear civil disobedience protest will affect hosting of international event

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 November, 2013, 4:17am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 November, 2013, 4:38am

Lawmakers have expressed concern over the running of the Apec ministerial meeting in the city next year as it may coincide with the Occupy Central civil disobedience movement.

With China hosting the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit in 2014, finance ministers and central bank officials from 21 Apec member economies will gather for meetings in Hong Kong come September.

But the event may take place at the same time as the Occupy Central movement to blockade Central district next summer if the government fails to come up with a satisfactory plan to implement universal suffrage for the 2017 chief executive election.

Democrat Albert Ho Chun-yan said that if the government did not put a stop to the movement by offering a genuinely democratic proposal for political reform, the ministerial meeting - originally meant to build up Hong Kong's global reputation - could instead bring it shame.

Lawmaker Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung, of the Business and Professionals Alliance, urged the government to put measures in place to minimise any potential impact Occupy Central might have on the Apec event.

"We shouldn't let Wan Chai and Central districts be paralysed [by the Occupy Central protesters]," he said.

Au King-chi, permanent secretary at the Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau, said the police would set up a task force to assess risks and plan for security measures. But she did not disclose whether the government had any concrete contingency plan in place for the civil disobedience movement.

Hosting the ministerial meeting would cost Hong Kong up to HK$84 million including non- recurrent spending and staff salaries for time-limited civil service posts, Au said.

But accountancy sector lawmaker Kenneth Leung called on the government to avoid spending unnecessarily.

"The government shouldn't specially buy new luxury vehicles [for the finance ministers] and then sell them after a few days of use … This would be environmentally unfriendly," he said.

Hosting the 2005 World Trade Organisation ministerial conference cost the city up to HK$250 million.