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In response to and support of National Security Education Day, the Fire Services Department will organise an open day at the Fire & Ambulance Services Academy in Tseung Kwan O on April 15. Citizens can apply for admission tickets from today until April 5. Activities will include the introduction of the department's efforts in safeguarding national security, a fire appliances parade, firefighting and rescue demonstrations as well as displays of training facilities, equipment and special vehicles. It will also feature an exhibition on fire safety education, game booths, a recruitment experience area, as well as a demonstration of Fire Services working dogs. The Fire & Ambulance Services Education Centre & Museum will also be open to the public on the day. The open day will be held from 8.45am to 4pm. People can apply for a maximum of four admission tickets until April 5 using the latest version of the Fire Services Department mobile app, which can be downloaded from the Apple App Store, Google Play and Huawei AppGallery for free. Tickets will be allocated by computer ballot and successful applicants will receive a notification through the mobile app on or before April 10. Children aged three or below do not require a ticket. Call 2411 8825 for enquiries.
The Immigration Department today announced the introduction of the 1868 WhatsApp assistance hotline for Hong Kong residents outside the city in distress or in need of assistance to contact its Assistance to Hong Kong Residents Unit (AHU). The department previously introduced the network data call function for the AHU's 1868 hotline and the Online Assistance Request Form. The current designated WhatsApp hotline (852) 5190 8909 for overseas job scams will cease service today. Hong Kong residents outside the city can use the 1868 WhatsApp assistance hotline for assistance by messaging (852) 1868, scanning the QR code or clicking the hyperlink. The 1868 WhatsApp assistance hotline is not applicable for general enquiries. For other immigration enquiries, call (852) 2824 6111 or send an email.
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government today said it strongly disapproved of and firmly rejected the unfounded, fact-twisting remarks and smears in the US' so-called 2023 Hong Kong Policy Act Report. In a statement, the Hong Kong SAR Government strongly disapproved of and firmly rejected the slandering remarks and ill-intentioned attacks in the report against Hong Kong where the “one country, two systems” principle is successfully implemented. It pointed out that the US once again twisted facts about Hong Kong, with politics overriding the rule of law, and interfered in the city's affairs which are China's internal affairs. “The US' attempt to undermine the stability and prosperity of Hong Kong will only expose its own weakness and faulty arguments and be doomed to fail.” It strongly urged the US to immediately stop acting against international law and the basic norms of international relations and interfering in Hong Kong affairs and China's internal affairs at large. The Hong Kong SAR Government also strongly opposed the false remarks against the improved Hong Kong electoral system and the 2022 Chief Executive Election in the report, highlighting that the electoral system puts in place legal safeguards to ensure full implementation of “patriots administering Hong Kong”. “Keeping political power in the hands of patriots is a political rule commonly adopted in the world. No one in any country or region in the world will ever allow political power to fall into the hands of forces or individuals who do not love, or even sell out or betray, their own country.” It emphasised that regardless of one's background, whoever meets the requirements and criteria of a patriot can participate in elections in accordance with the law and serve the Hong Kong public by entering into the city's governance structure after being successfully elected. The sixth-term Chief Executive Election was successfully held on May 8, 2022, in strict accordance with the electoral laws of Hong Kong in an open, fair and honest manner. The Hong Kong SAR Government made it clear that the improved electoral system is advanced and superior, adding that its broad representation, political inclusiveness, balanced participation and fair competition help bring society back on track to focus on developing the economy, enhancing people's livelihood, sustaining Hong Kong's long-term stability and prosperity, and achieving good governance. Hong Kong residents' rights to vote and to stand for election are well enshrined in the Basic Law. The Decision of the National People's Congress of the People's Republic of China in March 2021 did not revise the ultimate aim of attaining universal suffrage provided for in Basic Law Articles 45 and 68. The improved electoral system, by ensuring “patriots administering Hong Kong” and safeguarding the overall interests of society, is conducive to the stable development of Hong Kong's democracy, it added. As regard the absurd and unfounded contents against the National Security Law (NSL) in the report, the Hong Kong SAR Government cited that the US has been repeatedly exploiting different incidents and occasions as well as creating excuses to maliciously slander the NSL and attack Hong Kong in its dutiful, faithful and lawful implementation of the NSL since the law’s implementation in June 2020. It said the US has also deliberately neglected the fact that the implementation of the NSL has enabled the livelihood and economic activities of the Hong Kong community at large to resume as normal and the business environment to be restored. “Its bullying act and hypocrisy with double standards are despicable.” The Hong Kong SAR also noted that the legislative interpretation of the NSL given by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress last year did not in any way impair the independent judicial power and the power of final adjudication of the Hong Kong courts as guaranteed by the Basic Law. “The interpretation did not confer additional power on the Chief Executive, and only clarified that Article 47 of the NSL is applicable in handling the controversy concerning overseas lawyers. “Owing to the inherent nature of matters concerning national security, the executive authority is in a far better position than the courts to make appropriate judgements. “Hence, the courts will afford deference to the judgements made by the executive authority regarding national security matters. “This principle is also a general rule for safeguarding national security practised by different places in the world, including in the US. “It must be stressed that the certificate issued by the Chief Executive only provides binding certification to the court on the questions stipulated in Article 47 of the NSL. “It does not usurp the function of the court in deciding on other issues of the legal proceedings or the adjudication of the case.” The Hong Kong SAR Government also rebuked the US report's groundless smears against its law enforcement actions. “We seriously reiterate that all law enforcement actions taken by Hong Kong law enforcement agencies under the NSL, or indeed any local laws, are based on evidence, strictly according to the law and for the acts of the persons or entities concerned, and have nothing to do with their political stance, background or occupation.” As regard the “sanctions” arbitrarily imposed by the US as mentioned in the report, the Hong Kong SAR Government seriously reiterated the “sanctions” smack of despicable political manipulation, grossly interfere in China's internal affairs and Hong Kong affairs, and violate international law and the basic norms governing international relations. “The Hong Kong SAR Government despises such so-called ‘sanctions’ by the US, is not intimidated by such despicable behaviour, and will resolutely continue to discharge the duty of safeguarding national security." It supplemented that the legal basis for implementing “one country, two systems” comprises the Constitution and the Basic Law, which provide a constitutional guarantee for fundamental rights and freedoms, including the right to equality before the law, and is buttressed by the rule of law and independent judicial power. “The Hong Kong SAR Government will continue to fully, faithfully and resolutely implement the principles of 'one country, two systems', 'Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong' and a high degree of autonomy in accordance with the Constitution and the Basic Law to ensure the long-term stability and prosperity of Hong Kong," it added.
Police today launched the second Leadership Institute on Narcotics (L.I.O.N.) one-year anti-drug youth leadership development programme. Addressing the kick-off ceremony, Commissioner of Police Siu Chak-yee said L.I.O.N., founded by the force's Narcotics Bureau last year, has nurtured 100 young anti-drug leaders and disseminated the message of “Drugs? Never!” to about 13,000 students and over 4,000 members of the public. The Polytechnic University was invited to conduct research to evaluate the effectiveness of L.I.O.N. in a quantitative and qualitative approach. Mr Siu said the results revealed that the programme has effectively extended mentees’ anti-drug knowledge and encouraged them to promote anti-drug messages to their schoolmates, friends and family members more actively. Based on last year’s training, the second L.I.O.N. will include an additional visit to correctional facilities and a two-day tour to the Mainland, with a view to enhancing mentees’ sense of crime prevention, understanding of the national anti-drug strategies and national development through visiting local correctional facilities, anti-drug agencies and high-tech enterprises in the Mainland. Mentees will also have the opportunity to participate in overseas exchange programmes to gain a better understanding of the impact of drugs on different countries, broaden their horizons as well as tell the good anti-drug stories of Hong Kong. As many countries have legalised cannabis and other dangerous drugs in recent years, Police will continue to facilitate enforcement and work closely with the public to protect young people from harmful drugs.
The Immigration Department will launch new electronic services tomorrow for eligible applicants to complete the entire process of birth or death registrations online, without having to visit a registry in person. According to the Births & Deaths Registration (Amendment) Ordinance 2023, which will take effect tomorrow, the statutory time limit for the registration of deaths from natural causes is extended from 24 hours to 14 days. It also removes the requirement for applicants who need to register births or deaths to attend the registries in person, so as to provide a legal basis for the introduction of electronic services for these kinds of registration. Under the new electronic services, if either parent of a newborn baby is a Hong Kong permanent resident, the parents may submit an application for a birth registration online within 42 days after the birth of their legitimate child. They may apply for a birth certificate at the same time and choose to receive it by post upon payment of a prescribed fee online. For death registrations, the new electronic services will be applicable to deaths from natural causes. Applicants should submit an application for a death registration online within the 14-day statutory time limit. They may also apply for a death certificate in one go and choose to receive it by post after paying a prescribed fee online. The entire process of the registrations can be done on the department's mobile app, its website or the GovHK website. Eligible applicants are reminded to register an iAM Smart+ account before performing the digital signing function with legal backing. Apart from online registrations, members of the public may continue to register births or deaths by visiting a registry in person. The eligibility criteria and registration fees remain unchanged regardless of the registration method. For enquiries, call 2824 6111, send a fax to 2877 7711 or contact the department by email.
The Immigration Department today announced that April 5 and 7 will be designated as special service days for the Registration of Persons (ROP) - Hong Kong Office at Immigration Tower in Wan Chai. That office will then provide different kinds of identity card application services, including replacement of new smart identity cards under the Territory-wide Identity Card Replacement Exercise, first-time applications for adult or juvenile identity cards, replacement of identity cards due to loss, destruction, damage or defacement, as well as amendment of registered particulars on identity cards and identity card applications from new arrivals. Since the resumption of travel, many Hong Kong residents outside of Hong Kong returned for identity card applications, resulting in a high demand for appointment quotas. In addition, as the Easter holidays are coming, more residents are expected to return to Hong Kong. To enable residents to apply for identity cards in an orderly manner, the ROP - Hong Kong Office will open on April 5 and 7 from 8am to 6pm to provide the aforesaid identity card application services. Applications for the Certificate of Registered Particulars and the Certificate of Exemption will not be provided on these two days so as to concentrate resources for identity card application services. Appointments can be made on April 5 or 7 for identity card applications online starting from April 3. Click here for relevant QR code. For appointments on other days, people may scan the other QR codes to download the department mobile app or make an appointment for an identity card application online. To ensure residents can apply for identity cards in a smooth and orderly manner, ROP offices will not process applications without appointments. However, the offices may offer assistance on individual circumstances for applicants without an appointment but have an urgent need to replace their identity cards which have been lost, destroyed, damaged or defaced.
(To watch the full media session with sign language interpretation, click here.) The Government has the responsibility to ensure that public gatherings are not hijacked or get out of control so as to avoid endangering the public’s safety or even national security. Chief Executive John Lee made the remark this morning when asked by reporters about a last Sunday’s public procession in Tseung Kwan O where certain conditions were attached. Mr Lee said that while the people’s right to take part in public gatherings should be respected, Police have to ensure such gatherings proceed in an orderly manner under the law. “We have to be careful (to ensure) that any public gathering will not be either hijacked or turn into troubles that will cause not just inconvenience, but (also a) risk to public order, public safety and also national security.” He added that after each public gathering, Police will take time to review what occurred in an effort to gather more experience for handling similar requests for gatherings in the future. “After every action, Police will, of course, consider the whole process and then they will come up with some good ideas about (how) things should proceed.”
Commissioner of Customs & Excise Louise Ho called on the General Administration of Customs of the People’s Republic of China (GACC) in Beijing today and met GACC Minister Yu Jianhua to exchange views on deepening the co-operation between Mainland and Hong Kong Customs. As arranged by the GACC, Ms Ho also toured Beijing Customs facilities and met Director General in Beijing Customs District Zhang Geping to discuss ways to strengthen collaboration between the two places. Ms Ho started her six-day visit to Shanghai, Beijing and the Greater Bay Area on March 26. Yesterday morning, the Hong Kong customs chief officiated at the opening ceremony of the First Inspector Induction Course: National & Mainland Customs Operations Studies held at the Shanghai Customs College. The Customs & Excise Department pointed out that the relevant arrangements will become a regular part of the Inspector Induction Course. Ms Ho is scheduled to visit the Beijing Daxing International Airport tomorrow.
The total number of reported drug abusers in 2022 fell 14% from 2021 to 5,235, the Action Committee Against Narcotics announced today. According to the latest Central Registry of Drug Abuse figures, the number of reported drug abusers aged under 21 also declined by 19% to 718. The most common substances taken among drug abusers in 2022 were heroin, cocaine and "ice" (methamphetamine), while people under 21 mostly took cannabis, cocaine and ketamine. Cocaine became the most common psychotropic substance taken among drug abusers, overtaking "ice" for the first time in 10 years. According to a report published by the UN Office on Drugs & Crime in mid-March, coca cultivation surged by 35% between 2020 and 2021, while there is also an expansion of cocaine into non-traditional markets. The action committee noted that the impact of the international supply of drugs on Hong Kong should be closely monitored, adding that the higher number of young people taking cannabis and cocaine warrants attention.The number of people arrested for drug offences in 2022 dropped 14% to 4,005 compared with 2021. For the same period of comparison, the number of arrestees aged under 21 decreased by 29% to 483, with cannabis the main drug involved. Meanwhile, as high as 83% of the people prosecuted for drug offences were convicted. The committee's Chairman Donald Li noted that the resumption of social activities and travel presents new challenges to anti-drug work and the drug abuse figures in 2023 might rebound. The change of policies against drugs in some regions overseas, especially the relaxation of control on cannabis, and drug dealers attempting to promote drugs as a trendy and stress-relieving product will have an impact on the public's alertness against drugs, Dr Li said. The committee and the Security Bureau will enhance anti-drug efforts in collaboration with relevant departments in face of the challenges ahead, he added. With large-scale entertainment events and social gatherings becoming more frequent as society resumes full normalcy, and with a long holiday approaching in April, the Government reminded the public to stay away from drugs and not carry unknown items for others.
Chief Executive John Lee today inspected 43 probationary inspectors and 79 probationary officers on parade at the Hong Kong Customs College. Among the passing-out officers, three were Customs Youth Leader Corps members. The graduated inspectors will embark on their trip to the Shanghai Customs College on March 26, being the first batch to take the inspector induction course on national and Mainland customs operations studies. Speaking at the parade, Mr Lee pointed out that the National 14th Five-Year Plan clearly supports Hong Kong to enhance its role as an international maritime centre and international aviation hub. Playing a key role in the Greater Bay Area logistics chain, Hong Kong will continue to leverage its advantages as an international logistics hub to enhance international competitiveness. Mr Lee also said Customs has been an important force in the city’s participation in the Belt & Road Initiative and has also played an essential role in promoting Hong Kong’s integration into the national development. The mutual recognition arrangement on the Hong Kong Authorized Economic Operator Programme has facilitated Hong Kong enterprises to "go global" and tap into international markets, he added. The Chief Executive encouraged the passing-out officers to carry forward the goal of strengthening the connection to the country and the world in order to build a safe and efficient economic and trade environment. He also urged them to commit to providing quality services and the building of a strong China.