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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