Lunar New Year

Hong Kong’s largest Lunar New Year Fair crowded, despite fears of unrest

Increased security presence doesn’t deter crowds of revellers

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 January, 2017, 9:50pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 January, 2017, 8:42am

Crowds poured into Victoria Park on Lunar New Year’s eve on Friday, despite fears of unrest sparked by posters that called on people to “take back” the city’s largest festive market.

An increased police presence was evident at the city’s largest Lunar New Year fair in Causeway Bay, with officers regularly patrolling the area and keeping a watchful eye at entrances. Security guards were also monitoring the crowds.

A police source said Police Commissioner Stephen Lo Wai-chung and his deputy Alan Lau Yip-shing would attend markets around the city tonight to inspect the security operations.

Lunar New Year fair poster leads to safety concerns about pro-independence activities

At Victoria Park, revellers packed the fair to buy a wide variety of products, many made specially for the holidays.

At 11pm, hundreds of people were still making their way into the fair.

A staple of the fair has been fundraising by various political parties.

Demosisto secretary general Joshua Wong Chi-fung said sales and donations had surpassed his expectations.

“[This year, fundraising] has been better than I expected, even better than the year Scholarism raised money three years ago,” he said.

A so-called radical faction of democrats was less fortunate. Youngspiration and the Hong Kong National Party were told by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department last week that the department believed they planned pro-independence activities and themed items to sell.

The parties were banned from operating stalls at the fair over concerns about public order and safety.

Fears of a repeat of the Mong Kok riot last year were reignited when posters from an unknown source began showing up outside the park yesterday.

Then and now: Lunar New Year in Hong Kong

The “Take Back the Lunar New Year Fair” poster showed a billboard against a backdrop of flames with information about a possible gathering place and starting time for activities.

Lau had said contingency response resources would be ready to deal with any possible situation.

During the 10-hour riot in Mong Kok last year, protesters lit fires at 22 locations and dug up about 2,000 bricks from pavements to hurl at police, injuring nearly 100 officers.

Elsewhere in Hong Kong, one of the busiest of the city’s temples welcomed thousands of worshippers wanting to make early offerings in the new year.

Sik Sik Yuen – the Taoist, Buddhist and Confucian charity that runs Won Tai Sin Temple – opened its doors at 9pm for those who intended to present offerings on the stroke of midnight or as close to the hour as possible.