Wed, Jan 04, 2006 - Page 5 News List

Police, WTO protesters dominate HK radio poll award

DPA , HONG KONG

The Hong Kong police and the South Korean protesters they battled during December's World Trade Organization summit dominated a 2005 awards presentation yesterday.

Police collectively won the award of "person of the year" with South Korean farmers finishing second in a public poll organized by Hong Kong's main English language radio station.

More than 62 percent of the votes went to the police, while the farmer protesters landed just over 30 percent of the votes cast in the contest on government-run RTHK Radio Three.

The ferocious clashes between riot police and the protesters grabbed international headlines at the otherwise unremarkable WTO ministerial summit in Hong Kong from Dec. 13 to 18.

Despite the violence, the protesters gained the sympathy of many Hong Kong people who sympathized with their stance against globalization.

Only 2 percent voted for Hong Kong's troubled leader Donald Tsang (曾蔭權) in the radio poll, while the woman who emerged as his rival, retired official Anson Chan, got 1.79 percent of the votes.

The remaining six short-listed candidates -- including Mickey Mouse and rock star Bono -- all got less than one percent of the votes cast.

More than 90 percent of the votes in the annual poll -- won two years ago by an escaped crocodile that spent four months on the loose in Hong Kong -- went to the two sides in the WTO street battles.

The clashes, which saw protesters attack police with bamboo poles and metal barriers as police responded with tear gas and pepper spray, were the worst in Hong Kong in more than 30 years.

More than 100 people were hurt, including 38 police officers. Traffic was also brought to a standstill in the central part of Hong Kong as the worst of the street battles raged on Dec. 17.

Fourteen protesters -- most of them South Korean farmers -- were charged with public order offenses and have been bailed to appear in court in Hong Kong later this month.

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