SCMP Wednesday, September 6, 2000

Security beefed up after fear of new abode attack

STELLA LEE

Security for senior officials at Immigration Tower has been stepped up after a self-proclaimed right-of-abode group threatened to stage a second attack at the tower.
Letters from the group were sent to security officials about a week ago. They warned of suicide attacks at Immigration Tower if they were not issued with identity cards.
The threats followed the arson attack at the Wan Chai tower by a group of abode-seekers on August 2 when 50 people were injured. Senior immigration officer Leung Kam-kwong, 42, and mainlander Lam Siu-sing, 26, later died.
Secretary for Security Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, Director of Immigration Ambrose Lee Siu-kwong and Secretary for Justice Elsie Leung Oi-sie have been placed under police protection since the attack. Security at Immigration Tower, which was stepped up after the attack, was boosted further at the start of the week after police re-assessed the risk of attack.
It is understood police officers have been posted at entrances to the tower. Similar arrangements were put in place for a few days immediately after the arson attack. More immigration officers have been deployed for surveillance at the tower and fire extinguishers have been provided on each floor. They already had sprinkler systems and fire hoses.
It is understood security officials have contacted abode group representatives to check if they have heard of plans for an attack.
A spokesman for the parents' concern group, Cheung Cho-sang, said he had not heard of any plans for an attack. "We always call on abode-seekers to adopt a peaceful approach to pursue their rights," Mr Cheung said. The group is planning to hold a rally on Monday night to renew its demands and calm abode-seekers.
Jackie Hung Ling-yu, project officer of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Hong Kong Catholic Diocese, which has been helping abode-seekers, doubted the new threats came from the mainlanders fighting to stay in Hong Kong. He said many abode-seekers had been living in fear following the arson attack as they were worried the Government would implement a proposal to repatriate them pending a court ruling on their future.
"They fear they will be penalised when they're sent back to the mainland if they take any drastic action in Hong Kong," Ms Hung said.
Police have brought wounding and arson charges against 22 people after the abode-claimants set fire to the 13th floor of Immigration Tower. Three have also been charged with murder. They will appear in court tomorrow.
Both the Security Bureau and Immigration Department declined to comment on the new threat yesterday.