Five thousand police versus five protesters

Local | 19 Sep 2021 1:18 pm

Five thousand police officers including anti-terrorism specialists guard the five polling stations and patrol the city during the Election Committee election today.

They largely outnumber the five protesters this morning. 

Activist Alexandra Wong Fung-yiu, nicknamed “Grandma Wong” headed to Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre alone, and was escorted out by security staff.

Four members of the League of Social Democrats marched on Wan Chai streets, and could not move anywhere close to polling stations.

Around 4,900 eligible voters can head to the polling stations today to elect 364 out of 1,500 members of the Election Committee, an all-powerful group which can elect Hong Kong's chief executive and 40 out of 90 lawmakers. The remaining 1,100 seats are uncontested.

The five polling stations are at Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, Kowloon Park Sports Centre, Sha Tin City Hall, Tuen Mun City Hall and Princess Alexandra Community Centre in Tsuen Wan.

Uniformed and plain cloth police are stationed outside Kowloon Park Sports Centre, including those from the Counter Terrorism Response Unit.

Police commissioner Raymond Siu Chak-yee headed down to the center personally this morning and stayed 10 minutes.

Asked if too many police are deployed, he said the only aim is to ensure everyone's safety. 

At around 9am, activist Wong wrapped herself in a colonial flag and held a white piece of paper as she went onto an escalator at HKCEC. She was taken back to the center's entrance, and then asked to leave the venue altogether.

Wong said she is a Hongkonger but cannot vote today.

Another four members of League of Social Democrats marched from Southorn Centre to Central Plaza in Wan Chai. 

They raised a banner showing pictures of the 47 defendants in the pro-democracy primary case, saying the defendants received public support but could not join elections.

The sharp decrease in voters eligible for Election Committee election – from some 246,000 in the last election to 7,900 this year -- shows the committee's lack of representation, they said.

Secretary for constitutional and mainland affairs Erick Tsang Kwok-wai said police made risk assessments and cannot afford any mistakes for the important election. 

It is appropriate for police to make deployments, as there had been chaotic situations in previous elections, he said. 

Security aside, the election today is the first one which use an electronic poll register system to issue ballot papers.

There is also a special queue for those aged 70 or above, pregnant women and people who cannot stand in queues for long due to health issues.

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