The Civic Square area of the Central Government Offices (CGO) is to remain closed to the public due to a “high security risk”, Chief Secretary Carrie Lam said at a Legislative Council meeting on Wednesday.
Lam said that as “there are people who still sleep and demonstrate continuously outside the CGO, setting up tents” since the pro-democracy Occupy movement in 2014, there remains a “relatively high security risk… [and] the forecourt still needs to be closed temporarily.”
The square was the centre of the anti-patriotic education protests in 2012 and played a pivotal role in sparking the pro-democracy Occupy Movement. Students stormed the square in protest against Beijing’s white paper in 2014, which ruled out full democracy for Hong Kong.
Pro-democracy lawmaker Ray Chan Chi-yuen asked Lam whether the government was planning on reopening the square to the public, as it had been closed for almost a year and a half since September 26, 2014. He also asked “if the public have been deprived of their freedom of holding meetings and demonstrations” due to the square’s closure.
Lam said that “the government respects the public’s freedom of assembly, procession and demonstration” and that a section of the pedestrian pavement on Tim Mei Avenue is still designated as a public activities area where the public can protest and meet without the permission of the Administrative Wing.
Lam also said that the Central Government Offices, including the East Wing Forecourt are government property held by the Administration Wing.
“The forecourt is neither a public place nor a designated public open space. It is incorrect to describe the forecourt as “the civic square” in the question,” she added.