Activists from the Land Justice League and the League of Social Democrats were ejected from the Express Rail construction site in West Kowloon on Saturday after staging a protest against cost overruns.
Eight activists including vice chairman of the pro-democratic League of Social Democrats Raphael Wong, members Denny To Chun-ho, Figo Chan Ho-hang, Sze Shing-wee and the Land Justice League’s Chu Hoi-dick broke into the site in the early hours of Saturday. They raised banners that read: “Stop construction of the Express Rail Link” and “Oppose joint checkpoint”.
The Hong Kong section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (XRL) project has been plagued with controversy, including budget overruns and a proposal to put a joint Hong Kong-mainland checkpoint in Kowloon West at the arrival terminal.
Additional construction funds totalling HK$19.6 billion were approved earlier this month by the legislature’s Finance Committee, despite fierce protests and filibustering from pan-democratic lawmakers.
The activists demanded a halt to construction and asked for the vote on the project’s funding to be voided. They also called for the MTR Corporation and officials to be held responsible and for a consultation on how to use the West Kowloon terminus and other facilities.
Raphael Wong wrote on Facebook: “We would not allow mainland police to enforcing the law in Hong Kong – the Express Rail Link and joint checkpoint are unnecessary. The Legislative Council should not cut short debates forcefully, the vote should be voided!”
He added that the Express Rail Link, the North Eastern New Territories development plan, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge were “all unnecessary white elephant projects”.
Protesters also questioned the rail project’s estimation of passenger flow. They asserted that predictions were not financially viable and claimed that the rail line could be connected to a Chinese army base in Shek Kong as it was near the system’s depot in Pat Heung.
The group were searched by police at around 9:30am and their personal details were recorded. The banners were removed by 10am.