The Hong Kong Airport Authority on Friday stepped up security ahead of a three-day rally by protesters in the arrival hall with a ban on anyone other than travelers entering the building.
For the next three days, only passengers with air tickets or boarding passes for the next 24 hours and a valid travel document or airport staff with identity cards would be allowed into the check-in area of the departure hall at Terminal 1.
The crowd control measures started at 6am on Friday. Barriers were set up at each line of registration and security staff were inspecting passengers’ travel documents.
Passengers were advised to arrive early to avoid any delays at the airport. As of noon on Friday, things had been running smoothly.
The Airport Authority said it was aware of the plans for an anti-extradition rally and to ensure a smooth operation, they step up the crowd control measures. Other sections of the departure and arrival halls remained open to the public.
Starting at 1pm on Friday, protesters planned to stage a “warm pickup of guests to HK” rally in the arrival hall for three days. Online calls urged participants to be peaceful and avoid clashes and to cause no damage or enter restricted zones. They also urged the government to respond to their demands they raised for two months and to stop the suppression of free assembly.
However, the protest was criticized by the airline industry and lawmakers.
Tam Man-ho, a lawmaker from the Civic Party, said the rally may cause inconvenience for tourists.
Carol Ng Man-Yee from the Hong Kong Cabin Crew Federation said the Airport Authority’s action was too harsh as the rally participants had no intention of damaging the airport.
Raymond Chan Chi-chuen, another pan-democrat lawmaker, said the last rally at the airport was held in a peaceful way and the stepped-up security this time was unnecessary. He worried that the security controls could instigate the protesters and results in a clash.
A number of flight attendants told Apple Daily that they had never seen such an arrangement before and complained that it will take longer for them to report for duty.
However, tourism sector lawmaker Yiu Si-wing said as the scale of the rally would be large with more than 10,000 participants, it was reasonable to have the control measures, adding that the industry worried about clashes.
Meanwhile, the government announced on Friday that it was bringing a retired deputy police commissioner back into the force to handle the large-scale demonstrations.
Alan Lau Yip-shing, the former deputy of police (operations) who retired in November last year, has been appointed to a temporary post of deputy commissioner of police (special duties) starting Friday, according to a government release, but it did not disclose how long the temporary post would last.
Lau, 57, will assist police chief Stephen Lo Wai-chung in handling the large-scale public order events and steering major operations, including the celebratory activities of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.
Lau oversaw the Umbrella Movement in 2014 and Mong Kok Unrest in 2016.
This was the first time there are three deputy police commissioners on board at the same since 1997. The other two are Oscar Kwok Yam-shu, who in charge of the force management, and Chris Tang Ping-keung, who in charge of operations. Tang is also tipped as the next police chief.