POLITICS
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Occupy Central

Police receive extra training ahead of Occupy Central protest

Announcement comes as lawmakers condemn minister's remarks

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 May, 2014, 4:02am
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 May, 2014, 4:02am

Police have been given extra training in preparation for the Occupy Central protest, the police chief said yesterday, as students and lawmakers attacked the education minister for pressuring students and teachers not to attend.

Police Commissioner Andy Tsang Wai-hung refused to give details of the additional training for officers who may have to handle the civil disobedience movement's efforts to lock down Central in a pro-democracy demonstration, saying only that it had been given recently.

"Whether [Occupy Central] is illegal or not, it depends on the actual action of those involved during it," he said.

Meanwhile, 23 lawmakers signed a statement condemning Secretary for Education Eddie Ng Hak-him for putting political pressure on teachers this week when he said Occupy Central was unlawful and urged schools not to encourage pupils to take part.

"We think that Ng's comments were unfounded; meddling in the teaching profession, creating white terror and applying political pressure from top down on teachers," the statement by pan-democrat lawmakers said.

Agnes Chow Ting of student-advocacy group Scholarism said Ng's words had put pressure on both students and teachers. "It is … extremely inappropriate for a high government official to utter such statements," she said.

Chow and 10 other members of Scholarism waited in the rain outside Savannah College of Art and Design in Sham Shui Po yesterday, hoping to hand Ng a letter expressing their thoughts when he attended an event at the school. But he drove past the students and did not answer media questions.

The Education Bureau said Ng had spoken out of concern for teachers and students. A spokesman said Ng did not forbid teachers to cover social and political issues, but they should be "balanced and consider multiple perspectives in discussion to encourage individual thinking".

Returning from a trip to Sweden and Belgium, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said the motive behind the Occupy Central movement was "to use illegal action to reach a political goal".

He said organisers had often said the movement was illegal, that they would not resist arrest and would "plead guilty" in court.