The Civil Human Rights Front has criticised Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s remarks as “low and shameful” after he refused to reopen a square outside the government headquarters in Admiralty.

The East Wing Forecourt of the Central Government Complex, commonly known as”Civic Square,” was a popular protest site until it was fenced off in July 2014.

Leung Chun-ying
Leung Chun-ying. Photo: GovHK.

But Leung said on Tuesday that it should not be reopened, claiming the government has conducted risk assessments and considered attacks in foreign countries.

“In the past few years, you have seen arson of a rubbish bin outside a government building, [and] some tried to break open and crash though a glass door of the Legislative Council,” he said.

The Legislative Council still has a demonstration area, but not directly outside the government headquarters. Leung said: “There are a lot of demonstration areas around the government headquarters.”

Leung’s remarks came after Chief Executive-elect Carrie Lam said she will consider reopening the square. Some pro-Beijing camp members also supported its reopening.

CY Leung Chun-ying Carrie Lam
Leung Chun-ying and Carrie Lam. Photo: GovHK.

The Civil Human Rights Front hit back at Leung’s remarks: “It shows that Leung Chun-ying is still using every opportunity in his remaining term to create conflict in society – it is low and shameful.”

Au Nok-hin, the convener of the Front, said it would not rule out applying to use the square as the endpoint for the annual pro-democracy July 1 rally, when Leung is set to step down from office.

“Leung Chun-ying has no right to interfere in the use of Civic Square after he steps down,” he said. “We believe the public would be happy to see the government reopening the square, as closing it was against the original intention of its design, and the will of the public.”

civic square cgo Occupy Central umbrella government headquarters
File photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

The 1,000-square-metre site gained its nickname when it became the focal point of protests against the national education curriculum in 2012. The protests were led by the now-defunct student group Scholarism and drew tens of thousands of demonstrators, some of whom set up tents and refused to leave.

After days of protests, Leung Chung-ying conceded to shelving the plan.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.