Activist hopes revised Kwun Tong march plan will get police nod

August 20, 2019 13:57
Ventus Lau (right), one of the organizers of a planned weekend demonstration in Kwun Tong, says he is hopeful the police will clear his revised proposal for the rally. Photo: HKEJ

A "localist" activist says he is confident the police will approve his application for a weekend protest event in Kwun Tong, as he had revised the route of the planned march after authorities rejected an original proposal.

Ventus Lau Wing-hong told reporters on Monday after a meeting with the police that the original plan was to let participants walk from Tsun Yip Street Playground, via Kwun Tong Road, to Kwun Tong Swimming Pool, which is one street away from the Kwun Tong Police Station.

The police, however, turned down the proposal, raising objection to the planned end point of the rally on the ground that it could cause traffic congestion in the area, according to the activist.

Lau said he then proposed another route ending at the Zero Carbon Building in Kowloon Bay via Hoi Bun Road, and that he is now waiting for the police to approve the revised plan.

Insisting that the march will be held in a peaceful and rational manner, Lau said the demonstration, planned for Saturday, has two main purposes, with the main one being urging the government to respond to the five demands made by the public in the wake of the extradition bill fiasco.

The other one is to make Hong Kong people aware of the potential privacy issues arising from the government's smart lampposts initiative, he said. 

The government said in July that it has installed 50 smart lampposts on Sheung Yuet Road in Kowloon Bay and Shing Kai Road in Kai Tak as well as in the Kwun Tong city center.

Following the move, there had been rumors that the lampposts could conduct facial recognition, raising concerns that they might be used for surveillance of people, although the government has dismissed such talk as groundless.

In a press release last month, the government said the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO) noticed “an image captured from a TV news clip may mislead viewers to believe that the technology shown is one of the functions of smart lampposts.”

The OGCIO on July 18 clarified that “the image in question featured technology that is used to count the number of people at a given location. This technology was showcased at the Smart Government Pavilion at the International ICT Expo this April, and is not related to the Multi-functional Smart Lampposts pilot scheme.”

The OGCIO reiterated that the new lampposts "do not carry any facial recognition function”.

Besides the Kung Tong march, some people have called on citizens to apply a “stress test” on the Hong Kong airport on Saturday by taking all kinds of public transport and private cars there as a form of protest.

The airport, which was paralyzed last Monday and Tuesday by protesters, will see a court injunction related to a ban on demonstrations expire this Friday. 

Among other ideas being discussed in online forums is for a mass human chain on Friday, similar to the Baltic Way protest that took place in eastern Europe in 1989.

Friday, August 23, will mark the 30th anniversary of the Baltic Way, when about 2 million people joined hands to form a human chain spanning several hundred kilometers across the three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, in a peaceful political demonstration against Soviet rule.

An user on the LIHKG forum came up with a plan called the Hong Kong Way, suggesting that people should stand next to each other and hold hands in a show of solidarity for the Hong Kong protest movement.

As per the proposal, people should come together on Friday night and hold hands in long human chains along routes that correlate to the city's three main commuter rail lines -- the Island Line, Kwun Tong Line and Tsuen Wan Line.

By reproducing the spectacular human chain on the 30th anniversary of the Baltic Way, Hong Kong people can convey to the international community that Hongkongers are determined to strive for freedoms and democracy and that they will stand as one in the fight, the plan initiator said.

The aim is make authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong recognize people's desire for genuine universal suffrage, wherein Hongkongers will be able to choose their top leader themselves through direct elections and also elect all their Legislative Council members in a similar manner, the activist said.

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