Protest 5 turned back

FIVE people were detained at the airport last night when they arrived to take part in an anti-globalisation march that demonstrators will hold tomorrow in defiance of police.

The five - all from Taiwan - were among 20 people who arrived from Taiwan, Japan, New Zealand and Thailand to take part in the march.

Those allowed through, including two others from Taiwan, together with march organisers who went to meet them, planned to stay at the airport overnight. `We will probably hold some action today if the others are not released,'' spokesman Lam Chi-leung said early today.

The Immigration Department as usual said it would not comment on individual cases.

The detention recalled similar action earlier this year against Falun Gong members flying in to attend a conference of the sect. Force was used against some detainees who refused to board aircraft to take them home.

Hundreds of protesters from the Solidarity and Resistance Against Globalisation alliance will march tomorrow on their orginally planned route that police have banned - and organisers say they will resist any attempt to divert them.

``We are prepared to confront police if they take violent action against our demonstration,'' alliance spokesman Tam Chun-yin said.

The march will set off from Yau Ma Tei to Tsim Sha Tsui tomorrow afternoon, on the eve of the annual meeting of World Economic Forum's Asia-Pacific Economic Summit.

The summit is being held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre from Monday until Wednesday.

Police yesterday rejected the proposed route from the basketball playground at Arthur Street, Yau Ma Tei, along Nathan Road to the Hong Kong Cultural Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui.

They said the protesters could march instead from King George V Memorial Park in Jordan Road along Canton and Salisbury roads to the Cultural Centre.

``We will not compromise with police on changing our route,'' Mr Tam said. ``We think police have made an excuse to suppress our freedom to demonstrate because many approved protests have marched along that busy part of Nathan Road in the past.''

A police spokesman said the use of the playground at Arthur Street to hold a public meeting was not appropriate in terms of size, location and facilities.

He said heavy traffic and the large number of pedestrians on Nathan Road would mean that roads would have to be closed and traffic diverted and this would affect the public.

Meanwhile, seven Filipino federations will also launch a 600-strong protest in Central tomorrow after police barred them from staging a rally at the Hongkong International Trade and Exhibition Centre in Kowloon Bay, where the Philippine President, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, will hold a meeting to prepare for the summit.

A spokeswoman for United Filipinos in Hong Kong, Malett Balaoro, said local Filipinos were angry that their government was charging heavy fees before allowing them to come to Hong Kong to work. They had unsuccessfully tried to raise the issue at consulate level and now wanted to talk to their leader.

``We are being asked to stage the rally far away from the venue. We cannot see the centre from there,'' Ms Balaoro said.

Director-general of Investment Promotion Mike Rowse told a World Economic Forum press conference yesterday that police had sufficient resources to ensure the safety of visiting leaders.