HK$200,000 security review for legislature

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 July, 2014, 4:12am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 July, 2014, 4:25am

The legislature has hired a consultancy to examine security at its premises in Admiralty, including such possibilities as installing gates to the entrances and hiring more guards.

Consultants in the two-month review will cover areas including how to cope with protesters and their clashes with police.

Lawmakers, however, said the study had been planned before discussions on new-town funding last month drew scores of protesters who breached a security cordon, occupied the ground floor, and cracked a glass panel.

"The consultancy firm will conduct a comprehensive review of the security issues that may arise in the building, including accidents, emergencies such as fire, and the spread of communicable diseases," Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing said yesterday after a closed-door meeting of the Legco Commission, the administrative arm of the council. "We shall see what facilities need to be improved."

The HK$200,000 service contract requires the consultancy, which is not named, to submit a report of its recommendations in September.

A lawmaker sitting on the commission said the study was not merely in response to the recent turbulence.

"That is only one of the issues. The overall safety of the building will be examined," the legislator said on condition of anonymity.

But the issue of how security guards should work with police officers in case of emergency was not on the agenda, as that should be Legco's responsibility to sort out directly with police, he said.

The firm will consider the possibilities of employing more guards and scheduling them on shifts. It will also look at whether gates should be installed at the entrances.

On June 6, dozens of people broke through security lines and stormed the Tamar building as Legco's Finance Committee was vetting a government funding request for two new towns in the northeastern New Territories.

Legco then imposed tighter security, but the following Friday, as the committee reconvened, a 200-strong crowd tried to force its way in. A few wielded bamboo poles in an attempt to pry open the doors and cracked a glass panel. One man was seen reversing his electric wheelchair into a set of doors. Police responded with pepper spray, arresting 21 people.

The protest zone remains closed, with Legco in session until next week. Repair works to the entrance have yet to be finished, and holes drilled in the ground to fix iron fences around the legislature's protest zone will have to be covered.