Hundreds protested at Hong Kong International Airport yesterday after an incident involving Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Leung’s daughter last month.
Cabin crew members and their supporters, politicians, and union workers occupied the arrivals hall and for three hours about the so-called “bag-gate.”
The protests were reportedly sparked after Leung’s daughter was allowed to take a luggage left by itself for an extended period, which may have compromised flight safety.
Union supporters placed the protester count to around 2,500 while the police estimated about 1,000.
Minor scuffles occurred as protesters fought against pro-government supporters who claimed that the protestors were politicizing the incident. The Hong Kong Cabin Crew Federation stated at a press conference that the rally was aimed at highlighting the safety issues related to the incident.
According to the South China Morning Post, the protesters wanted direct talks to the Civil Aviation Department director general to express their concern over such a possible security breach. “It’s a very dangerous practice,” federation general secretary Carol Ng Man-yee said, “our job is to secure the safety of the flight and passengers.”
In response to the protest, a government spokesman stated that the luggage had already passed the security screening stage before entering the restricted area of the departure zone, meaning that security was not compromised. The Airport Authority would submit a case report to the government and proper follow-up measures would be taken.
Last month Leung’s daughter realized she had forgot her luggage and asked Cathay Pacific to retrieve it for her. Due to a security issue, the staff at first refused but after pressure from her mother and allegedly a phone call from Chief Executive Leung, they relented. Leung denies pressuring the staff, but since then he has faced renewed calls to resign.
When asked to comment on the incident, the Airport Authority and Security Department saw no wrongdoing and that it was perfectly fine for an exception to be made where “under the premise of meeting all kinds of security rules, airlines can, depending on the actual situation, provide services according to passengers’ needs.”
Civic Party Jeremy Tam Man-ho launched a petition with three international aviation organizations to clarify proper luggage check-in procedures. As of last week the petition drive has garnered more than 29,000 signatures.
Edited by Edward White