'Why did officers enter Legco Building?'
House Committee deputy chairman says he only invited police to stand outside building to prevent protesters storming in last Friday
Johnny Tam and Ng Kang-chung
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The deputy chairman of the Legislative Council House Committee yesterday questioned why police entered the Legco building last Friday, when a protest against the government's development plan for the northeastern New Territories turned ugly.
Civic Party lawmaker Ronny Tong Ka-wah said: "I only asked the police to stay outside the Legislative Council building to prevent protesters forcing their way into the building. I did not give any consent for the police to enter our building."
His comments came yesterday as lawmakers voiced their opinions over whether Legco should step up security in the wake of Friday's attempt to storm the complex. They were speaking ahead of today's meeting of the Legco Commission in which the issue is due to be discussed. The Legco Secretariat's report on the handling of Friday's protests will be scrutinised at today's meeting of the Legco Commission.
Insurance-constituency lawmaker Chan Kin-por said Legco had to come up with new security measures. "The vulnerabilities of the complex were exposed on Friday," he said.
He suggested that an area reserved for protests, which is about 10 metres from the building, should be moved further away to allow a bigger buffer zone for police officers and security guards to protect the complex.
He also suggested: "Rational and irrational protesters should be separated too."
But IT sector lawmaker Charles Mok said: "It's not just about stepping up security. Problems can't be solved by deploying even 10,000 more police officers."
He said if the government listened to public opinion and withdrew its funding request for the two proposed new towns there would be no clashes.
Friday's mayhem erupted while the Finance Committee was discussing the government's request for HK$340 million in preliminary funds for new towns in Kwu Tung and Fanling North.
In the end the committee adjourned without a vote but its discussion is set to resume this Friday. Tong said he believed security arrangements should be stepped up in time for this week's meeting.
And Chan suggested the Legco Commission should consider having a tow truck on hand to prevent a repetition of Friday's incident when People Power chairwoman Erica Yuen Mi-ming was accused of blocking the car park exit with her car and preventing lawmakers from leaving.
Yuen, assistant to lawmaker Raymond Chan Chi-chuen, denied she had blocked the way. "There should have been room for them to pass me."
Democratic Party chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing had reservations about the need for more security. "I have to read the [Legco] Secretariat's report first," she said.
Police removed more than 100 protesters in the early hours of Saturday, and arrested 21 people.