Government to charter flights to bring Hongkongers home from Bangkok

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 December, 2013, 2:29pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 December, 2013, 2:31pm

The government will charter flights to send Hongkongers in Bangkok back to the city when necessary, Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok told lawmakers on Wednesday.

Lai also said in the Legislative Council meeting that the government has been in close contact with the Chinese embassy in Bangkok to keep itself up-to-date on the latest situation there.

“As of this morning, there are a total of 23 tour groups involving 461 Hongkongers in Bangkok, Pattaya and Hua Hin,” he said.

Lawmakers including the Federation of Trade Unions’ Wong Kwok-hing were concerned as to why the government had not raised the travel threat level to black, the highest warning.

It was raised from the lowest yellow to the (middle) red on Monday.

Lai said the government has taken into account a number of factors, including how different places have reacted to the situation in Bangkok.

So far, Hong Kong and Taiwan are the only two places to have issued warnings above the normal level, he said.

Earlier this month, Hong Kong travel agencies began cancelling package tours to Bangkok because after anti-government protesters clashed with police on the capital’s streets.

Protesters opposing Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra had besieged various government buildings, including Government House, the complex that houses her offices.

On Tuesday, Thailand's government ordered police to stop confronting protesters demanding the resignation of the prime minister, raising hope that days of political violence may end, but the campaign's leader said the fight would go on.

The protests were the latest eruption of conflict between the Bangkok-based establishment and forces loyal to Yingluck and her brother, former premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

Five people have been killed since the weekend and scores hurt. A heavy-handed crackdown would have raised questions about the government's survival and the possibility of the military stepping in.