HK 'plans ferry shuttle in case of election disruption'

HONG KONG • There is a contingency plan to take the three chief executive candidates and 1,194 voters to and from the election venue by ferry if protesters try to disrupt the election on Sunday.

The South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported yesterday it has learnt that ferries could be deployed if protesters use sabotage tactics on land.

On the day of the election, no boats will be allowed to berth at piers outside the waterfront Convention and Exhibition Centre on Hong Kong Island, reported the newspaper. The main polling station and central counting station are both located inside the convention centre.

At least six marine police teams will be ready to provide escorts between designated destinations, which remain secret for security reasons, SCMP said.

"The contingency plan will be considered only in the scenario where candidates and voters cannot come to or leave the venue by land," a government source told SCMP.

"Up to now, such an arrangement is not anticipated, but we have to prepare for the worst."

It is understood that police fear radical protesters inside the election venue may cause trouble to delay voting and counting.

It is also understood that officers, including personnel from the police tactical unit and plain-clothes police, will be on the ground to carry out surveillance and patrol the venue.

As police were still gathering intelligence to see if anyone was planning to cause trouble, the deployment would be finalised only later this week, another source told SCMP.

The organiser of the annual July 1 mass rally told The Straits Times in a report earlier this month that his group is planning a blockade of the polling centre to disrupt the election.

"Many people see this as an unjust election system because the 'small-circle' Election Committee does not represent Hong Kongers. Therefore, we need to stop them," Mr Au Nok Hin, convenor of the Civil Human Rights Front, told ST.

Hong Kong's next chief executive will be picked in a secret ballot by the Election Committee, which is packed with Beijing loyalists.

Mrs Carrie Lam, 59, the city's former No. 2 official, is widely seen as Beijing's preferred candidate. Her rivals are former financial chief John Tsang, 65, and retired judge Woo Kwok Hing, 70.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 21, 2017, with the headline 'HK 'plans ferry shuttle in case of election disruption''. Print Edition | Subscribe