Legco officials accused of not doing enough to keep protest in check

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 08 June, 2014, 5:23am
UPDATED : Sunday, 08 June, 2014, 5:23am

The Legislative Council's Secretariat was accused of not doing its job properly after almost 100 people breached a security cordon and occupied the legislature on Friday in protest at plans to develop new towns in the northeastern New Territories.

In the end, 60 policemen were sent in to clear the Legco building, and at least five security guards were reported injured.

Lawmaker Dr Priscilla Leung Mei-fun, of the Beijing-loyalist Business and Professionals Alliance, said she was deeply disappointed with the secretariat and urged an overhaul of security.

The protesters, including many elderly people whose homes will make way for the new towns, occupied the ground floor of the building, while, on the second floor, Legco's Finance Committee scrutinised a government request for HK$340 million to fund preparatory work. It was the fifth time the committee had discussed the request but the meeting again ended without a vote.

The secretariat did not alert police when the first protesters gathered on the ground floor at 3pm, as it said the lobby was open to the public. It changed its mind when some 30 activists, mostly from the pro-democracy group Civic Passion, arrived at 8.30pm and scuffles allegedly broke out with the Legco security guards.

"[The secretariat] failed to protect the building … how come the protesters could enter the building freely as if there was no supervision?" she said. "Legco is a public place and security guards should alert police immediately if they fail to ensure order."

She asked the secretariat to explain its actions at the Legco Commission's regular meeting on Tuesday.

Dr Kenneth Chan Ka-lok, a commission member, said Leung's comments were neither fair nor accurate. "Because of its constitutional status and integrity, Legco should not call police for help rashly," the Civic Party lawmaker said, adding that Legco had a responsibility to listen to the public. He said the decision not to call police at first was acceptable. He hoped the commission would open Tuesday's meeting to all lawmakers.

The secretariat said it would give a full report and reiterated it had acted in accordance with the commission's rules.

Meanwhile, Jaco Chow Nok-hang, an activist who supports villagers affected by the development plan, condemned Civic Passion protesters.

"They kept criticising the villagers for not being radical enough after they arrived at Legco," he said. "It's totally fine to come and show support but they should not demand every protester acts or fights according to their own ways. They have negatively affected the action."