Opponents of planned border towns vow to keep their cool at Legco rally

Eight groups opposed to scheme to build towns near border promise peaceful action after last Friday's storming of Admiralty complex

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 June, 2014, 11:24pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 June, 2014, 8:49am

Activists and villagers from eight groups who oppose the government's plan to build two new towns near the border promise they will stay calm when they take part in the next protest outside the Legislative Council tomorrow.

The government is stepping up security outside the complex in Admiralty to prevent a repeat of the chaos that forced a halt to last Friday's meeting.

The drop-off area where protesters gathered last time would probably be closed to protesters, a police source said. Police and the Legco Secretariat were still discussing details, such as how many officers would be mobilised, the source said.

I want to escalate ... but what we do will depend on the will of those who are there

There was mayhem last Friday when scores of protesters tried to storm the building 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.

The eight groups said they would not take part in any action to try to force their way inside. But radical group Civic Passion, which is not one of the eight, said their response would depend on what happened tomorrow.

"It's not up to any group to decide what actions to take, since many who showed up [last Friday] came on their own," said the group's founder, Wong Yeung-tat. "Personally, I want to escalate our actions … but what we do will depend on the will of those who are there."

At the Legco building car park yesterday, holes were drilled to fix barricades in place and prevent protesters from using them to ram the glass door of Legco.

Villagers said they had only one aim - to protect their homes from being razed for new towns.

"You [the government] brand us mobs if we try to storm [the Legco building], but if we don't, then you say no one is against the project," said Becky Au Hei-man, who lives in one of the affected villages in Fanling.

Kwu Tung North villager Chow Koot-yin, 26, was saddened by what happened last week, saying it was not expected.

"All we wanted was to highlight the injustice of the [new towns] plan. We are not looking for drama or violence."

Chow's village is one of several in Kwu Tung North and Fanling North that would be demolished if the dual towns, which will yield more than 60,000 flats, get the go-ahead.

It was disappointing that newspapers had branded them "violent", said Li Yin-fong, a Kwu Tung North resident. Asked if she would endorse the same extreme tactics tomorrow, Li said the protesters "had her support" but those who resorted to violence would have to "understand and bear the consequences".

Meanwhile, police are investigating posts in online forums that give instructions on how to break the glass door of Legco, and methods to make bombs.

Acting Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu warned the public in Legco yesterday that the law still applied in cyberspace.

People Power lawmakers Albert Chan Wai-yip and Raymond Chan Chi-chuen tried to delay proceedings in Legco, saying they were "declaring war" because officials had refused to meet pan-democrats on the new town projects.