Police criticised for arresting activists over storming of Legco

Wong Yeung-tat and Dickson Cheung Hon-yin arrested after demonstration against development plans; concern groups vow to 'make voices heard at Legco on Friday

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 June, 2014, 1:22pm
UPDATED : Friday, 13 June, 2014, 5:02am

Opponents of the government's HK$120 billion plan to build new towns in the northeastern New Territories have accused police of attempting to scare off protesters by arresting activists.

Two people were detained yesterday, and a third who reported to police was arrested, over their role in a protest at the Legislative Council complex at Tamar, Admiralty, a week ago today. But campaigners said they would return to Legco today to "make their voices heard" as the Finance Committee discusses the plan again.

Dozens of people opposed to the plans - including activists and residents who will lose their homes - breached a security cordon to make their point to lawmakers debating a government request for HK$340 million in funding for preliminary work.

Wong Yeung-tat, founder of activist group Civic Passion, and campaigner Dickson Cheung Hon-yin were both released on bail and told to report back to police in mid-August.

A third activist, Yip Po-lam, went to Central Police Station last night after learning officers had visited her workplace while she was not there. She was arrested.

Opponents of the project said they would again attend the Legco building today as the Finance Committee is due to continue its discussion of the government funding request from 3pm.

Campaigners said they would stay outside the building in a designated protest zone, but asked that elderly residents affected by the plan be allowed inside to watch a live broadcast of the discussions and avoid the summer heat.

"We never wished to create any conflict or to occupy the chamber," said Lee Siu-wah, a member of one of the concern groups opposed to the plan. "We only hope to make more Hongkongers understand how the invisible violence at our legislature harms everyone in Hong Kong."

Lee's group accused the government of creating "white terror" - a term associated with state brutality during periods of martial law - in making the arrests. It said supporters would not be put off attending Legco today.

Legco president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing said the complex would be partially closed to the public today. Only 20 seats will be available in the public gallery, half the usual total.

Lee said members of concern groups had registered to take seven of those seats. Asked whether they would protest during the meeting, Lee said "making themselves heard" did not mean they were protesting.

Lee said the groups had yet to decide how they would act if committee chairman Ng Leung-sing were to cut short discussion of the funding, which has been subject to a filibuster attempt by pan-democrats, and order an immediate vote. He said his group would urge those present not to create chaos during the meeting.

Representatives of the 6,000 people who will lose their homes to the new developments were critical of radical activists who joined last week's protest.

The protest also led to calls from Beijing-loyalist lawmakers for tighter security in the Legco complex.