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In response to media enquiries on a piece of news circulating on social media about the recent resignation of a Department of Justice prosecutor, deliberately mentioning that the prosecutor appeared on a so-called list of “sanctions” made by US Congress members out of intimidation on November 1, 2023, the department pointed out today that the prosecutor had resigned in September 2023, ie before the release of the so-called list. Although the department usually does not comment on the movement of individual officers, it decided to set the record straight by issuing a statement. Moreover, it reiterated that all departmental staff will continue to perform their duties without fear and uphold the rule of law in Hong Kong. Foreign politicians’ threats of sanctions against its colleagues, which are in violation of international law, will only make colleagues all the more determined to discharge their obligations and responsibilities in safeguarding national security, the department stressed.
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government today strongly disapproved of and condemned the scaremongering remarks made by Consul General of the US to Hong Kong Gregory May. In a statement, the Hong Kong SAR Government stressed that the US should stop making irresponsible remarks on Basic Law Article 23 legislation and Hong Kong’s effort in safeguarding national security, and stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs which are China’s internal affairs. It also said Hong Kong law enforcement agencies have been taking law enforcement actions based on evidence and strictly in accordance with the law in respect of the acts of the people or entities concerned, and have nothing to do with their political stance, background or occupation. The suggestion that certain individuals or organisations should be immune from legal consequences for their illegal acts, including those involving collusion with foreign or external forces, is no different from advocating a special pass to break the law, and this totally runs contrary to the spirit of the rule of law, it pointed out. Reiterating that Hong Kong courts exercise judicial power independently, the Government said it is extremely inappropriate for the US Consul General to make unwarranted comments on ongoing Hong Kong criminal trials and even attempt to compare the Lai Chee-ying case with the Hong Kong SAR Government’s efforts in promoting the city, and is a complete disregard to the spirit of the rule of law. The Government also noted that the US is in no position to point its finger at other countries and regions for making their own legislation for safeguarding national security legitimately, as it is an inherent right of every sovereign state and international practice for every state to enact such laws. It also pointed out that the US has at least 21 pieces of national security-related legislation plus countless administrative orders issued in the name of national security, and has even suppressed dissidents through covert surveillance, illegal wiretapping and global manhunts. The press statement also highlighted that the US Consul General’s remarks contradict his professed intention for the US to foster a better relationship with Hong Kong, deliberately ignoring the city's constitutional duty and practical needs for Basic Law Article 23 legislation and blatantly smearing Basic Law Article 23 legislation and the law enforcement actions conducted in accordance with the law. Furthermore, the Hong Kong SAR Government emphasised that the implementation of the National Security Law and Basic Law Article 23 legislation are precisely for safeguarding national sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity, and ensuring the full and faithful implementation of “one country, two systems” under which Hong Kong people administer the city with a high degree of autonomy. At the same time, it will better safeguard the fundamental rights and freedoms of Hong Kong residents as well as other people in the city. These normal interactions are protected by the Basic Law and the local laws of Hong Kong, it added.
The Government announced today that it received a total of 13,147 submissions during the public consultation period on Basic Law Article 23 legislation and based on the initial figures, 98.64% of the participants showed their support for the legislation and made positive comments. The public consultation concluded yesterday. According to the preliminary figures as at 11.59pm yesterday, the Government received, mainly by email, post or fax, a total of 13,147 submissions during the consultation period. Among them, 12,969 expressed their support and made positive comments, while 85 purely contain questions or opinions therein that cannot reflect the authors' stance. There are 93 submissions, representing 0.71% of the total, which oppose the legislative proposals, and amongst them, over 10 are overseas anti-China organisations or abscondees. The Security Bureau noted that the result has indicated that the legislative proposals have gained majority support from the public. Views received cover different aspects of the legislative proposals while some offered views on safeguarding national security beyond what is covered in the proposals of the consultation document, serving as valuable reference in the process of drafting the bill, the bureau added. Since the commencement of the public consultation, the Government had held nearly 30 consultation sessions to meet with representatives from various sectors to give them detailed briefings on the proposals in the consultation document. About 3,000 people participated in the consultation sessions and a majority of the participants indicated their support for the legislation. Apart from thanking citizen for their active participation in the public consultation, the Government emphasised that it is pleased that society has reached consensus to complete the legislation as early as possible. It also said that it is encouraged by the proactive expression of support for the legislation work by various sectors, which demonstrates a strong ambience to support the Basic Law Article 23 legislation in the society. The Government made it clear that it will work in full steam to consolidate the results of the public consultation and report to the joint meeting of the Legislative Council’s (LegCo) Panel on Security and the Panel on Administration of Justice & Legal Services. By making reference to the views received, it will also strive to finalise the Safeguarding National Security Bill as soon as possible so that it can be introduced to LegCo. The Government added that during the legislative process, it will continue to brief various sectors proactively, take the initiative to disseminate further information in relation to the legislation through different channels, and refute groundless attacks and smears on the Basic Law Article 23 legislation to set the record straight and protect the public from being misled.
The Security Bureau today strongly disapproved of and rejected the biased and erroneous remarks made by UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron concerning Basic Law Article 23 legislation. In a press statement, Secretary for Security Tang Ping-keung said Mr Cameron, while making his remarks, deliberately refrained from mentioning the extensive public consultation and nearly 30 consultation sessions conducted by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government on Article 23 legislation. “In fact, a majority of the participants and members of the public filing written submissions in response to the public consultation indicated their support for the legislation; and once the Safeguarding National Security Bill is finalised, it will be introduced to the Legislative Council for scrutiny.” Mr Tang noted that the legislative proposals were made with reference to laws of foreign countries, including those of the UK where over 10 stringent laws are enacted to safeguard its national security. “What Mr Cameron said reflected his double standards.” Moreover, the security chief pointed out that regardless of political, social, economic and cultural systems, every state will enact laws on safeguarding national security. “This is an inherent right of every sovereign state, and is also an international practice. Each country or region has the right to enact laws in the most suitable way, having regard to its own circumstances and needs. “It should also respect the systems of other countries and regions and their responsibilities and needs to legislate for safeguarding national security, rather than conceitedly attempting to interfere in the legislative procedures of other countries or regions.” Additionally, he stressed that the UK should immediately stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs which are the internal affairs of China. After Hong Kong’s return to the motherland, the Chinese Government rules the Hong Kong SAR with the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China and the Basic Law rather than the Sino-British Joint Declaration, he reiterated, adding that the UK has no sovereignty, jurisdiction or right of supervision over Hong Kong. Mr Tang also made it clear that the Hong Kong SAR Government will complete the Article 23 legislative exercise as early as possible to plug national security loopholes. “In formulating the relevant offences and drafting the bill, we will target acts endangering national security with precision and define the elements and penalties of the relevant offences with clarity.” Normal business operations and normal exchanges with overseas institutions, organisations and individuals will be fully protected by the law, he added.
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Government strongly disapproved of and rejected the biased and misleading remarks made by the US government about Basic Law Article 23 legislation. In a statement, the Hong Kong SAR Government stressed that the US should immediately stop making irresponsible remarks on such legislation and interfering in Hong Kong affairs which are internal affairs of China. The statement pointed out that the US was found conducting long-term covert surveillance around the world and even against the governments of multiple countries, adding that a former US national security advisor even publicly admitted that he helped plan coups in foreign countries. The Hong Kong SAR Government said it is simply unconvincing for the US government to comment at this juncture on the Hong Kong SAR's legislative proposals for safeguarding national security, especially those on offences relating to “state secrets” and “external interference”. The statement made it clear that the practice of providing for proportionate extraterritorial effect for offences endangering national security fully aligns with the principles of international law, international practice and common practice adopted in various countries and regions. It further underscored that the national security laws of the US and many other countries have extraterritorial effect. A lack of extraterritorial effect in the relevant laws in safeguarding national security is tantamount to condoning activities endangering national security carried out by ill-intentioned people overseas. Therefore, extraterritorial effect is an essential component of national security laws. The statement also noted that the US even often abuses “long-arm jurisdiction” and unilateral sanctions to target residents of other countries, adding that the US government’s smears on the extraterritorial effect of Article 23 legislation are simply untenable. The Hong Kong SAR Government said it has pointed out publicly time and again that the proposed offences relating to “state secrets” and “external interference” have multiple conditions. It is necessary to meet all the relevant conditions concurrently before the offence concerned is committed, and hence it is impossible for anyone to violate the law unwittingly. In formulating the relevant offences and drafting the bill, the Hong Kong SAR Government will target acts endangering national security with precision and ensure that the elements and penalties of the relevant offences are defined with clarity, the statement highlighted. Additionally, it underlined that the Hong Kong SAR law enforcement agencies have been taking law enforcement actions, including arrest and detention, based on evidence and strictly in accordance with the law in respect of the acts of the persons or organisations concerned, and have nothing to do with the background or political stance of the person or organisation. The Hong Kong SAR Government emphasised that the top priority of the principle of “one country, two systems” is to safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests. Furthermore, it stressed that to legislate on Article 23 is precisely for safeguarding national sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity, as well as ensuring the full and faithful implementation of the principle of “one country, two systems” under which the people of Hong Kong administer Hong Kong with a high degree of autonomy. It will also better safeguard the fundamental rights and freedoms of the residents of the Hong Kong SAR and other people in the city, the Hong Kong SAR Government added.
CPC Central Committee Hong Kong & Macao Work Office Director and State Council Hong Kong & Macao Affairs Office Director Xia Baolong today concluded his seven-day inspection visit to Hong Kong by viewing the Shenzhen Bay Control Point. Accompanied by Chief Executive John Lee, Commissioner of Customs & Excise Louise Ho, Acting Director of Immigration Tai Chi-yuen and Under Secretary for Security Michael Cheuk, Mr Xia inspected the operation and traveller clearance services at the control point, and was informed about the situation during the Lunar New Year holidays when round-the-clock passenger clearance services were provided. In addition, Ms Ho and Mr Tai briefed Mr Xia on the immigration and customs clearance arrangements for travellers at the passenger terminal building. They also highlighted the measures taken during peak hours, festive periods or holidays to divert passenger flows, noting that such measures help ensure a smooth operation at the control point so that travellers can cross the boundary in an orderly and safe manner.
The Territory-wide Inter-school National Security Knowledge Challenge held its finals and awards presentation ceremony today to commend the winning students’ outstanding performance in the challenge. Chief Executive John Lee said in a video speech that he believed the students have enriched their understanding of the Constitution, the Basic Law, the National Security Law (NSL) and the holistic view of national security as well as increased their awareness of the responsibility in safeguarding national security through participating in the challenge. He pointed out that the Basic Law Article 23 legislation is an integral part of safeguarding national security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, enabling the Hong Kong SAR to have a more comprehensive and effective legal system to safeguard national security. Mr Lee also highlighted that the Basic Law Article 23 legislation will be a new area of national security education and that the Hong Kong SAR Government will proactively take forward the relevant work. He encouraged school principals, teachers and parents to lead by example and together deepen students’ understanding of the legislation. Officiating at the presentation ceremony, Secretary for Justice Paul Lam pointed out that national security is a fundamental safeguard for upholding national sovereignty, security and development interests. Mr Lam added that the promulgation and implementation of the NSL has brought a safer and more stable environment to Hong Kong as well as a better learning and upbringing environment for students. He hoped that students would keep their interest and passion on national security, engage in continuous learning and active participation, and contribute to building a safe and stable environment. Jointly organised by the Department of Justice, the Security Bureau, the Education Bureau and the Hong Kong Shine Tak Foundation, the challenge aims to enhance students' understanding of the Constitution, the Basic Law and the NSL. It was conducted in the form of a quiz and divided into four sections, ie primary school and secondary school sections, both of which included team and individual competitions. Over 102,000 students from 585 primary and secondary schools participated in the challenge.
On day two of his inspection visit, CPC Central Committee Hong Kong & Macao Work Office Director and State Council Hong Kong & Macao Affairs Office Director Xia Baolong met lawmakers and entrepreneurs. Mr Xia, accompanied by Chief Executive John Lee, had an engagement session with all Executive Council non-official members this morning. In the company of Mr Lee and Chief Secretary Chan Kwok-ki, Mr Xia had another engagement session with Legislative Council President Andrew Leung and LegCo members which was attended by the chairmen and deputy chairmen of the LegCo House Committee, Finance Committee and its two subcommittees as well as the 18 LegCo panels. In the afternoon, Mr Xia, accompanied by Secretary for Justice Paul Lam and Deputy Secretary for Justice Cheung Kwok-kwan, inspected the International Organization for Mediation Preparatory Office where he was briefed by its Director-General Sun Jin on the office’s preparatory work and progress. Mr Xia then had an exchange session with over 20 Hong Kong entrepreneurs on topics such as Hong Kong’s economic development. Also in attendance were the Chief Executive, Financial Secretary Paul Chan, Deputy Financial Secretary Michael Wong, Secretary for Financial Services & the Treasury Christopher Hui, Secretary for Commerce & Economic Development Algernon Yau and Secretary for Development Bernadette Linn.
The Correctional Services Department, in its annual review, said today that the number of new admissions to correctional facilities – including detainees, remand prisoners and convicted individuals – increased 30% to 17,268 in 2023, up from 13,246 in 2022. At a press conference, Commissioner of Correctional Services Wong Kwok-hing said the average daily penal population at correctional facilities had increased to 8,498 persons in 2023, compared to 7,613 persons in 2022. The average daily occupancy rate rose from 67% to 75%. Moreover, the average daily number of remand prisoners hit a new record high since 2000 of 3,096, up from 2,666 in 2022. Mr Wong said that to ease the strain on Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre, capacity at Stanley Prison and Tung Tau Correctional Institution had been deployed to accommodate adult male remand prisoners. He added that the department will begin the partial redevelopment of Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre in mid-2024 to increase its capacity for adult male remand prisoner by 410 places, thereby helping to alleviate overcrowding. The commissioner said that the number of admissions to correctional institutions owing to involvement in offences relating to black-clad violence and the contravention of the National Security Law stood at 950, rising from 829 in 2022. As at the end of 2023, the number of individuals in custody owing to involvement in offences relating to black-clad violence or contraventions of the National Security Law was 776, an increase of 49% compared to a year earlier. To deal with very hot weather conditions, the department has been exploring and introducing new measures in recent years to improve air ventilation in correctional institutions. Last year, it commissioned a works department to apply a cooling coating on the rooftops of some buildings at two institutions in order to test the coating’s heat-reducing effect, with favourable results being observed. The department said it will discuss the wider application of the cooling coating at suitable correctional facilities with the works department concerned, subject to the availability of resources. On its rehabilitation work, the department said it had launched a variety rehabilitation programmes under Project PATH to address the special rehabilitation needs of those in custody owing to involvement in offences relating to black-clad violence and contraventions of the National Security Law. It has also launched a series of educational activities to enhance knowledge of Chinese history among young persons in custody, and their sense of national identity, and has established flag-raising teams among such young persons. Mr Wong also mentioned that the department set up Multi-purpose Family & Rehabilitation Service Centres in Sha Tin and Tuen Mun last year, as well as Parent-child Centres at Hei Ling Chau Addiction Treatment Centre, Tong Fuk Correctional Institution and Stanley Prison. Through its Rehabilitation Pioneer Project, the department organised 12 community education activities designed to disseminate key messages to young people in relation to safeguarding our country and home, and leading a law-abiding and drug-free life, as well as around offender rehabilitation. Last year, a total of 41,683 youth participants joined such activities, up from 23,777 in 2022. The department also launched an official Instagram account to let more young people understand its work and significance. Mr Wong revealed that the department expects to recruit about 55 correctional officers this year, and that year-round recruitment for assistant officers will continue. To promote the application of innovation and technology, and high-quality development, the department signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Hong Kong Science & Technology Parks Corporation last year to deepen co-operation and promote sustainable development of smart prisons.
The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC)’s journey began half a century ago. Its clear and compelling mission is to ensure that Hong Kong remains fair, just, stable and prosperous, then as now. Over the past five decades, the ICAC has become an integral part of governance, partnering with our community, and indeed every sector in the community, to uphold the principles of integrity, accountability and transparency. Thanks to the ICAC and its formidable anti-corruption regime, the people of Hong Kong have long enjoyed equal opportunities to pursue their aspirations, whatever they may be. That legacy, established some 50 years ago, carries on today, under the auspices of the unique “one country, two systems” principle. We take heart, and pride, in our city’s long-standing rule of law, clean public services, level playing field for doing business, and community-wide embrace of integrity, mutual respect and fairness. Hong Kong is widely recognised as one of the world’s cleanest cities. In the International Institute for Management Development’s latest World Competitiveness Yearbook, Hong Kong was ranked the world’s second best in government efficiency. This remarkable result was contributed, in no small part, by our high ranking in anti-corruption. Under the criterion called “bribery and corruption do not exist”, Hong Kong was No. 1 throughout Asia, and No. 10 in the world, among over 60 places surveyed. The World Justice Project, which put Hong Kong in the 23rd place globally on the rule of law, also rated us the world’s No. 9 on absence of corruption, out of over 140 places. These compelling results have placed Hong Kong in a strong position, both within Asia and globally, in maintaining clean governance and social integrity. They are clear testimony to the ICAC’s solid efforts in eradicating corruption in the past five decades. Integrity is pivotal to ensuring the continuing prosperity and stability of Hong Kong, and realising our essential contributions to national development. The ICAC supports the country’s anti-corruption drive and policy. It also works closely with like-minded agencies around the world, to advance anti-corruption initiatives. Indeed, the ICAC currently holds the presidency of the International Association of Anti-Corruption Authorities, committed to promoting the effective implementation of the United Nations Convention against Corruption. The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government is dedicated to working with every part of our society, as well as our counterparts around the world, in fostering a culture sustained by probity. In this regard, I am delighted to welcome the establishment of the Hong Kong International Academy Against Corruption. This new institution has been created to help in the global struggle against corruption. The academy will offer anti-corruption training courses for graft fighters in Hong Kong and around the world. The academy will also serve as an international research and exchange centre for anti-corruption experts from different parts of the globe. The academy's initiatives will, I am confident, boost Hong Kong’s status as an anti-corruption centre, while promoting our clean society, social stability and the value we place on integrity and the rule of law. It is an ambitious undertaking – one fully in keeping with the ICAC’s historic anniversary and its renowned prowess in the fight against corruption – and I, for one, cannot wait for the new academy to get going. As we mark the ICAC’s milestone, let us also recognise, and commend, the collective efforts of the ICAC’s dedicated staff, past and present. I applaud, as well, every individual who has contributed to Hong Kong’s long-standing success against corruption and its incessant threats. Their commitment and pursuit of justice have ensured Hong Kong’s success, while inspiring jurisdictions around the world. Ladies and gentlemen, here in Hong Kong, we are celebrating not only the ICAC’s golden jubilee, but also the Lunar New Year. I have every confidence that this bright new year promises strength, wisdom and leadership – qualities that you and the ICAC possess in blessed abundance. That can only mean a very good year for Hong Kong. And each and every one of you. Happy birthday, ICAC. I have every confidence that you will continue to inspire Hong Kong, and the world, over the next 50 years and beyond. Thank you. Chief Executive John Lee gave these remarks at the ICAC 50th Anniversary Reception, which doubled as the Establishment Ceremony of the Hong Kong International Academy Against Corruption, on February 21.