Date
23 August 2017
The east wing forecourt of the government headquarters in Admiralty has been called Civic Square since a protest was staged in the area in 2012. Photo: CNSA
The east wing forecourt of the government headquarters in Admiralty has been called Civic Square since a protest was staged in the area in 2012. Photo: CNSA

Civic Square seen likely to reopen after Carrie Lam takes office

Hong Kong’s next leader Carrie Lam, who has said one of her priorities after taking office on July 1 is to mend social divisions, is likely to reopen the “Civic Square” outside the government’s headquarters in Admiralty after it has been closed for more than two years.

The chief executive-elect’s office said on Wednesday in a reply to an enquiry on the matter that Lam will consider suggestions regarding the reopening, without elaborating, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

It is known that Lam had said in private that she was willing to explore possibilities that would make the government headquarters more open as it was originally designed, including the Civic Square, the east wing forecourt of the complex which had become a favorite venue of mass demonstrations against government policies.

In July 2014 the government prevented access to the area and started erecting a 3-meter fence around it for security reasons. 

On Sept. 26 of that year, a student-led march against the Beijing framework for election reform led protesters to “reclaim” the square and ignite the Occupy Movement.

Since then, public access to the square has been closed.

Pan-democrats have been urging the government to reopen it, and lately they have been joined by several pro-establishment parties in their call.

Lawmaker Edward Lau from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) told HKEJ that he called for the reopening of Civic Square in a letter to Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung in early March, only to be denied later that month on the ground that the government is still assessing potential security risks.

Lau said the government was missing the point, noting that opening the square does not mean it is encouraging protests, but rather, it wants to put the Occupy Movement behind.

He said he has also forwarded his proposal to the chief executive-elect’s office.

The Liberty Party and the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions also support the idea, saying reopening the square will mean a fresh start.

Liberty Party chairman Felix Chung said Lam should do it to show that her government is open-minded and prove her critics wrong for calling her “CY 2.0″ who will just pursue the policies of the outgoing administration.

Besides, it will boost her popularity, Chung said.

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TL/RT/CG

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