Beijing’s new National Security office in Hong Kong, the repurposed Metropark Hotel, riled neighbours in Causeway Bay on its first official day of operation, by closing roads and bus stops for its opening ceremony with little warning, leaving thousands of passengers in the dark about where to board their bus.
Local district councillor and chairwoman of the Wan Chai District Council Clarisse Yeung Suet-ying says authorities gave the council less than 24 hours notice for the closure of Tung Lo Wan Road, which affected around five or six major bus routes.
“Tai Hang residents use that road to access public transport, so that’s why residents are very concerned about the arrangement of the closure of the road,” says Yeung, who visited the scene this morning to help those displaced.
Transport Department says it made a public announcement at 10pm, claiming roads would be closed with immediate effect “due to road situation”.
The road was closed for the opening ceremony of the Office for Safeguarding National Security, an event attended by the office’s chief Zhang Yanxiong and Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam. The new office will oversee Hong Kong’s enforcement of the new national security legislation, which aims to punish secession, subversion terrorism and collusion with foreign forces.
The hotel, owned by China Travel Service, was repurposed as a temporary HQ almost overnight, and will serve as the security law HQ for “a few years” according to sources quoted by South China Morning Post. “The hotel was owned by China Travel Service, so it is safer and easier to coordinate the national security office’s moving in and security,” the newspaper quotes one source.
Yeung says locals were concerned about the sudden presence of the office in their neighbourhood. “It is threatening the neighbourhood, the shops and restaurants; everybody’s complaining,” she says.