Leadership hopefuls to escape by boat if radicals try to disrupt Hong Kong’s election

The three candidates and 1,194 voters will be taken to and from the Wan Chai election venue by boat if protesters use sabotage tactics

PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 March, 2017, 5:33pm
UPDATED : Monday, 20 March, 2017, 11:28pm

Ferries will be on standby to take the city’s three chief executive candidates and 1,194 voters to and from the Wan Chai election venue on Sunday if protesters cause chaos on land, the Post has learned.

At least six marine police launches will be ready to provide escorts between designated destinations, which remain secret for security reasons.

“The contingency plan will only be considered in the scenario in which candidates and voters cannot come to or leave the venue by land,” a government source said. “Up to now, such an arrangement is not anticipated, but we have to prepare for the worst.”

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It is understood that police fear radical protesters inside the venue may cause trouble to delay voting and counting.

On the day of the election at the Convention and Exhibition Centre, no boats will be allowed to berth at piers outside the waterfront venue in Expo Drive East.

In the unlikely event of a winner not emerging during the vote on Sunday, police have drawn up a three-day deployment plan to guard the venue and deal with crowd control from Saturday to Monday, according to a force insider.

“Officers from the force’s search team will carry out security inspections inside and outside the venue and police will also be deployed to guard some of the entrances and exits of the venue on Saturday,” the source said.

He said about one-third of the deployment would be mobilised on Saturday and Monday while the full deployment would be in force on Sunday.

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It is understood officers including personnel from the police tactical unit and plainclothes police will be on the ground to carry out surveillance and patrol the venue.

As the force was still gathering intelligence to see if anyone planned to cause trouble, the deployment would be finalised later this week, another source said.

The two front runners in the race are the city’s former No 2 official, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, and ex-financial secretary John Tsang Chun-wah. The third candidate is retired judge Woo Kwok-hing.

Lam bagged 580 nominations from Election Committee members to qualify as an official candidate, just short of the 601 needed to win on Sunday.

Tsang managed 165 nominations, with a small portion from the pro-establishment camp. Woo won all his 180 nominations from pan-democrats on the committee.

As the final vote will be a secret ballot, it is possible that some of the 580 Beijing loyalists who nominated Lam will change their mind and back Tsang or Woo.

According to the Electoral Affairs Commission, the first round of voting will start at 9am and close at 11am at the main polling station in the third-floor Grand Hall.

If there is no winner, a second round of voting will be held from 2pm to 3pm, with a third round between 7pm and 8pm.