Legislative Council of Hong Kong

Demolish fence outside Hong Kong government complex to promote reconciliation, pro-establishment parties say

So-called Civic Square, formerly a popular protest spot, should be reopened, government loyalists tell incoming leader Carrie Lam

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 April, 2017, 9:13pm
UPDATED : Monday, 24 April, 2017, 10:21pm

Two major pro-establishment political parties in Hong Kong have echoed calls by rivals to demolish a fence outside the government’s headquarters in Admiralty which has been seen by some as a symbol of restrictions on freedom of assembly since it was erected in 2014.

The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong and the Federation of Trade Unions said they had conveyed their view to Hong Kong’s next leader, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, in separate meetings on Monday that so-called “Civic Square” should be reopened.

“Our view is that if the security issue can be solved, the matter can be discussed,” DAB chairwoman Starry Lee Wai-king said.

Her colleague Edward Lau Kwok-fan said removing the fence could be a way to promote “reconciliation” across the political spectrum.

Federation lawmaker Wong Kwok-kin agreed.

‘Unconstitutional’ rules on access to Civic Square set to face legal challenge

“After all, the blockade has affected the government’s image and the forecourt is a convenient passageway for members of the public to access the Legislative Council,” Wong said.

The 1,000 square metre forecourt became a focal point for protesters after the headquarters complex, designed with a “door always open” theme, opened in 2011.

The three-metre-high fence was built around it amid security fears in 2014 after several major sit-ins, including a week-long demonstration against proposed national education classes and a campaign urging the government to award HKTV a television broadcasting licence.

WATCH: Riot police deployed after students storm ‘Civic Square’

In the run up to the Occupy pro-democracy protests in 2014, students climbed over the fence in an attempt to “seize back” the square, which resulted in arrests and eventually the start of the 79-day movement calling for universal suffrage.

Popular protest spot Civic Square closed for security works, public access limited

Nathan Law Kwun-chung, a student leader-turned-lawmaker, said the forecourt should be reopened to honour the original intention of the building design.

There should be a place inside the complex for people to express their views through peaceful demonstration, Law said.

On Sunday, Civil Human Rights Front convenor Au Nok-hin called on Lam to reopen the site as a friendly gesture to mend social rifts and vowed to try to obtain approval to hold a rally there for the front’s annual July 1 protest march.

Lam’s office said she would consider the request after she assumed office.