IT is “inevitable and right” to ban props that advocate Hong Kong independence from Civic Square (公民廣場), Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor (林鄭月娥) declared on her way to an Executive Council (行政會議) meeting.
Lam noted that the east wing forecourt of the Central Government Offices (政府總部), known as Civic Square, has been reopened to allow people to express opinions.
But there should be rules for its use, she added; specifically, it is unacceptable for people to advocate independence in this government area.
“So it is inevitable and right for our colleagues of the administration wing and the security guards to say those promotional materials are forbidden from the east wing forecourt,” she said.
Lam also found it regrettable that three security officers were injured while apprehending a man carrying an independence banner into the forecourt on National Day.
But legislator Au Nok-hin (區諾軒), vice convener of the Civil Human Rights Front (民間人權陣線), said the rules imposed on Civic Square had obviously been introduced suddenly as he had not heard about them since the square reopened and saw a Lunar New Year protest.
Authorities also added a fl oral arrangement to stop people from using the area under the flagpole, Au said, asking: “With so many restrictions imposed on Civic Square how come [Lam] said opposing opinions are welcome?”
Civic Party (公民黨) lawmaker Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu (楊岳橋) said the administration should seek to persuade people to accept ‘one country, two systems’ instead of banning particular banners.
But Alice Mak Mei-kuen (麥美娟) of the Federation of Trade Unions (香港工聯會) backed the official line, saying that banning the Hong Kong National Party (香港民族黨) showed independence advocacy is a ‘no-go area’.
Lam was also asked when the administration would formulate legislation for the Article 23 security law.
She replied that she was hearing several divergent opinions, with some people urging her to enact Article 23 and some warning her not to do so.
But as it is a constitutional responsibility, she said, Article 23 will be enacted when conditions are right.
On the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge (港珠澳大橋), Lam would not confirm a launch date as three governments are involved in many trials before its opening. But she has not heard of problems emerging.
And on scandals about the Sha Tin to Central Rail Link (沙田至中環?), Lam said the administration would assure itself on safety before the line opens.
(This article is published on the Student Standard on 12 October 2018)