Monday, November 21, 2005

Mardi Gras on 27 Nov

Join in the Hong Kong People's Mardi Gras

On 27 Nov 2005, We celebrate the people's alternatives against the anti-people policies of the WTO.

Organized by the United Filipinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL-HK) and the Asian Migrants Coordinating Body (AMCB), we will gather at Edinburgh Place at 1 pm. We will then parade around the central district before prodceeding to the Central Government Office. We hope to see you there.

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Thursday, November 17, 2005

As Hong Kong Prepares for the Ministerial Conference

HK prepares to deal with unrest at meeting

November 10, 2005

Protests and demonstrations have plagued the World Trade Organisation's ministerial conferences for many years. The upcoming meeting of trade ministers from 148 economies in Hong Kong next month is expected to be no exception.

It has been estimated by the host country authorities involved in the logistics of the meeting that about 22,000-26,000 people will come to Hong Kong for the mid-December conference. Approximately 10,000 are expected to be protesters.

One-fifth of those are expected to be young farmers from South Korea, a country with a vocal farm lobby and relatively high tariff barriers to imports.

South Korean participants will be in the spotlight at the up and coming WTO meeting following the suicide of a middle-aged male South Korean farmer a couple of years ago during a protest at the Cancun meeting of the WTO ministerial conference.

''The media has kept asking how do you plan for suicide? The South Korean activists were upset, This sort of question does not make sense.'' Mabel Au, international liaison officer of the Hong Kong People's Alliance (HKPA) on WTO said at a briefing for journalists in Hong Kong last week.

HKPA is the main co-ordinator for NGOs from other countries, most of which are based in Asia.
Looking back at the pictures of the riots in Seattle where the WTO ministers met in 1999, protests have long been a common sight at the organisation's meetings.

To combat potential demonstrations which could lead to violence and exploitation by criminals, the Hong Kong administration has drawn up a plan to deal with any unrest, focusing particularly on the first and last days of the six day-meeting.

''[From 2002-2004], our police were sent to observe a number of protests and demonstrations at various events like the G-8 meetings, the International Monetary Fund meetings and even those in Cancun,'' said Alfred Ma, deputy head of Hong Kong Ministerial Conference Coordination Office.

Under the plan, the shoreline and area around the heavily booked Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre will be a closed off. Police on guard have also received special training to cope with any protests.

Miss Au said all NGO alliances were committed to peaceful protests.

She pointed out that communication would be key to coping with protesters. Bearing in mind that they will come from different countries, there will be one language marshall for every 12 coming to Hong Kong for the meeting.

''Sometimes the protestors think they are doing something which is good for their country, but in other countries it is not seen that way, and this is because of language and cultural differences,''she said.

NGO alliances plan to hold demonstrations on Dec 11, 13 and 18 during the conference, as well as run various seminars at the same time.

While the delegation is busy managing logistics to avoid trouble, officials from the European Union have been busy too, preparing the entry of the trade bloc's 10 new members to the conference. The new countries joined the EU in May 2004.

The EU has spent a year preparing for the logistics involved for their delegation, an official said.


"How do plan for a suicide?" The question itself defies logic.

We are demonstrating, regardless of language, for a universal good. We are here, a representation of life, to fight for the well-being of the people in less fortunate countries. We are here to make a point, to make the lives of others better, not take away our own lives.

We are here to appeal not haunt.

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Monday, November 14, 2005

Failure acknowledged before the Ministerial Conference

Hopes of a global trade deal are under threat after ministers failed to iron out key differences ahead of a crucial World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting.

Talks between WTO officials in London and Geneva have ended in stalemate and now December's talks on cutting barriers may have to be scaled back.

US trade chief Rob Portman expressed pessimism ahead of the Hong Kong talks. "I'm sorry to report we have not been able to make the progress I would have liked to have made," Mr Portman said. "We've been able to bridge some differences but we have not been able to come up with the formulas and modalities for the Hong Kong meeting."

His sentiment were echoed by EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson who said the talks had succeeded "not in narrowing differences but in defining them". "The gap is significant."

Sticking points

WTO ministers have now downgraded their expectations of securing a major breakthrough at the WTO summit in Hong Kong starting on 13 December. They had hoped to approve a framework accord to reduce trade barriers, as demanded in the Doha round of talks. Now they predict that another conference would be called by March to make up lost ground.

"This round does extend through 2006," said US Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns.

"It would be a grave mistake to declare this round at an end at the Hong Kong meeting," Mr Johanns said.

However, some progress was made this week when the US and China agreed a deal on textile imports. The deal follows months of wrangling over the soaring level of Chinese clothing imports into the US. Earlier in the year, the EU and China agreed limits on textiles imports.

Building bridges

The international community had aimed for a free trade deal by the start of 2006 but reform of farm subsidies remains a major sticking point. Developing countries such as Brazil and India argue that farm subsidies in wealthier nations - the US and the EU in particular - depress global farm prices and prevent farmers in poorer nations from prospering. Poorer nations have dismissed trade offers from the US and EU as being insufficient, with the EU coming in for particular criticism.

"As far as the European Union is concerned, I feel that we have done everything we could reasonably be expected to do in agriculture to build bridges," said Peter Mandleson. Brazil has resisted stepping up talks on trade in products and services until the farm question is settled.

"If there is not a good deal on the table for developing countries then it is better for there to be no deal at all," said Peter Hardstaff of the World Development Movement.


It is nice to have an apology after the many conferences that the delegates have held. Only one has the balls to step out and tell the critics that they (the delegates for the Ministerial Conference) have are going to fail them.

The poor’s lives are in the hands of people who dress and dine in opulent manners whose responsibilities at a IMF/WTO conference is to read aloud materials produced by their employee. How in tuned are these delegates with the lives of the common people?

How long more do we have to put up with this show of ambivalence?

It is time for us to make a stand.
We are the voices of the people who cannot speak.
We will take this to the streets of Hong Kong, this December.
We, a body of people with different backgrounds will stand united to fight this devil called poverty.

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Thursday, November 03, 2005

The Promise

The Promise of a Smooth WTO
October 26, 2005

Secretary for Security Ambrose Lee reaffirmed the Government's determination and ability to ensure the smooth conduct of the WTO's Sixth Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong in December.

Speaking at a meeting of the Legislative Council on the motion of thanks debate on the Policy Address, Mr Lee said the Government would also ensure that people could express their views on WTO issues in a reasonable and lawful manner while minimising inconvenience to the public.

He said it was hoped that the MC6 would promote further trade liberalisation, pointing out that Hong Kong would benefit from a better free-trade system.

More than 11,000 participants expected

The Government expects a turnout of more than 11,000 participants for the MC6 - 6,000 delegates, 3,000 journalists and 2,000 representatives from non-governmental organisations. A large number of local and overseas organisations and individuals are expected to stage protests and demonstrations during the conference period.

"We believe that the great majority of these demonstrations will be peaceful and the protestors law-abiding, but we do not rule out the possibility that some of the demonstrators may resort to disruptive or even violent means. We will not tolerate such unlawful behaviour," Mr Lee said.

He said Hong Kong greatly valued freedom of expression and the right of assembly and the Government was committed to facilitating the exercise of these rights. The Police and other law enforcement agencies would adhere to these principles and adopt a reasonable and flexible approach in handling these public activities. They were prepared to deal with any unexpected incidents.

The government has established dialogue with the Hong Kong People's Alliance on WTO and other NGOs. Arrangements for public gatherings and the setting up of demonstration areas have been agreed recently.

Appeal for public understandingMr Lee stressed that the Administration had never underestimated the challenges of holding the conference in Hong Kong, adding that the preparatory work for the conference had started one and a half years ago.

He appealed for public understanding of the need for temporary management measures, including traffic diversions and restricted access to certain areas. He called for support and co-operation from the community.

Mr Lee also appealed for LegCo members' support to facilitate the examining of the Closed Area (Hong Kong Ministerial Conference of WTO) Order so that the Administration could disseminate to the public a clearer message relating to traffic diversions and closed areas as well as to help demonstrators work out their arrangements.

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Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Wimpy Cops vs Peaceful Demonstrator

Check out the map.

The blue circles with the X inside indicate the regular police officers. The ones in the orange circles marked "P" are the Police Tactical Units and the yellow circles with the A inside are the demonstration areas.

Near the demonstration area closest to the C&E Centre (the yellow circled "A" at the top of the map), the police will place a PTU (Patrol Tactical Unit) of 41 persons who are to prevent any demonstrators from getting near the conference site.

Originally, the PTUs were trained in controlling situations and suppressing riots and they should be more than up to the task. However, according to information from the police, the government has ordered that all PTUs must refrain from using violence in order to preserve the image of Hong Kong. In other words, "no bloodshed." Under these conflicting requirements, the PTUs had to develop a new strategy.

The so-called new strategy is basically defensive in nature. A source said: "In the past, the PTU were trained for tactics that can be either offensive or defensive. Now, they are training for a defense-only formation designed to reduce the probability of injury to the police officers." But a PTU member who had been trained in anti-riot procedures was not too please about the new tactics: "This is a strange formation. It definitely cannot be used for offense. At most, it can stop people from moving forward."

In the past, each team has at least seven to eight Remington shotguns. In the new formation, there are at most one or two. They will be using either rubber bullets or beanbags. A PTU member said that there have been many violent incidents at previous WTO meetings and he is afraid that their setup will make them defenseless. Together with their lack of practical battlefield experience, this may cause chaos if things get out of control. The department's arrangement indicates that they consider not sustaining any injuries will be a victory of sorts.

The traditional Hong Kong police formation consists of four rows: the first row consists of police officers holding small round shields mainly for defense purposes to prevent the demonstrators from advancing; rows 2 and 3 are police officers with batons and tear gas launchers mainly for close physical contact and self-defense and row 4 has police officers with Remington shotguns and other weapons in the event that the demonstrators deploy violent methods.

The new Hong Kong police formation has the PTU members holding long shields that are five foot tall, forming a protective wall in the front (row 1) and in the back (row 4) with police officers in rows 2 and 3 carrying small round shields and batons with some members even wearing full body armor to prevent injury. All members will carry long batons, but there will only be one or two Remington shotguns using plastic bullets and beanbags.

And look at this absolutely bias misrepresentation of a protestor

WAKE UP people! We have told you UMPTEEN times... WE ARE PEACEFUL! We did not look anything like that at the round table meeting did we? Now we look like we just walked off the set of "Young and Dangerous".

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