HONG KONG: Top government officials said they did not encourage police officers taking to the streets on Sunday, saying it may undermine its public image.
Secretary for Security Ambrose Lee said Hong Kong disciplined services, including police, have been held in high esteem by the community.
"I would urge colleagues that when considering taking part in the procession this Sunday, they should also consider whether their action will backfire, taking into consideration the current economic situation and the feeling of the general public," he said yesterday.
Lee's comment came after officers said they were contemplating a protest on Sunday to show their dissatisfaction over pay issues.
"We have an established mechanism to deal with staff pay, staff structure and welfare. So I would urge our colleagues in the police department to make use of the established mechanism to air their views," he said. "I would not encourage colleagues to take their action on the streets because there is an established mechanism to resolve the issue."
When asked about the government plan should officers apply for judicial review, Lee said it is the right of citizens to challenge the government decision through legal channels.
Chief Secretary for Administration Henry Tang said during a visit in Zhaoqing of Guangdong province that police officers should treasure the positive image they have established with hard efforts over the years.
Commissioner of Police Tang King-shing also cut short his overseas trip to handle the issue.
Tang will meet with four police officers union today.
Police Inspectors' Association chairman Tony Liu Kit-ming said they have taken into account whether their public image will be affected by the protest, but added that he believed the public will understand that they have the right to express opinions.
The protest will only be participated by off-duty officers and their relatives, Liu said. The participating officers will not chant any slogans.
Liu added that the protest will be held in an orderly manner.
The police's outrage hinged on the government's refusal to set up an independent commission to probe the report compiled by the pay trend survey committee and the slow progress of the grade structure review released last November, which suggests pay increases and other benefits for long-serving staff.
(HK Edition 06/25/2009 page1)