A 4-star hotel has been requisitioned and transformed into a new national security office for Hong Kong. Many reporters were made to remain outside water-filled barricades during the opening ceremony, which was not publicised by the authorities.
Metropark Hotel Causeway Bay is now the temporary base for the Office for Safeguarding National Security. Chief Executive Carrie Lam, former chief executives Tung Chee-hwa and Leung Chun-ying, China’s Liaison Office chief Luo Huining and the new agency’s head Zheng Yanxiong attended the unveiling ceremony on Wednesday at around 7am.
Luo was appointed to advise Lam on national security matters following the enactment of controversial legislation that criminalises subversion, secession, foreign interference and terrorism. The legislation was inserted into Hong Kong’s mini-constitution last month by China’s rubber-stamp parliament, bypassing the local legislature.
Lam delivered a speech in Mandarin and said China has demonstrated its care towards Hong Kong and had a determination to perfect One Country, Two Systems doctrine through the legislation.
“It is necessary for the central people’s government to reserve their power in handling the very few national security cases which the local government is not capable enough to handle,” she said. “So as to ensure that national security is 100 per cent guaranteed under any circumstances.”
Lam added that the Hong Kong government would coordinate with the newly established agency to enhance information sharing: “The agency will advise, monitor, instruct, coordinate and support the Hong Kong government in fulfilling its duty to safeguard national security, collect and analyse information related to national security, and handle national security crimes in accordance with the law under specific circumstances.”
China’s national emblem and two flag poles were installed at the hotel overnight amid a heavy police presence throughout the evening. Most parts of Tung Lo Wan Road – where the hotel is located – were closed with water-filled barricades surrounding the area and some morning buses rerouted in anticipation of the ceremony.
The public learned about the location of the office on Tuesday afternoon after District Councillor Clarisse Yeung confirmed the matter with the police force following an East Week magazine report.
An HKFP reporter noted that a sign reading “Hotel is now undergoing minor work” had been posted over the past week. Meanwhile, Metropark’s website remains offline for “maintenance.”
A receptionist at the hotel told Apple Daily that they will not accept bookings for at least the coming six months.