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The award presentation ceremony of the Junior Police Call's first STEM-Up HK Innovation & Technology Competition was held at the Convention & Exhibition Centre today. Addressing the ceremony, Commissioner of Police Siu Chak-yee said the Chief Executive's 2021 Policy Address proposed a number of innovation and technology-related initiatives, including promoting research and development and attracting talent. The National 14th Five-Year Plan also indicated clear support for Hong Kong’s development into an international innovation and technology (I&T) hub, which fully affirmed the city’s important role in advancing the country's development in science and technology. The competition aims to unleash young people's potential in I&T, nurturing them to become social leaders. Mr Siu was pleased to note that many of the entries adopted the principles of creativity and functional design, with a number of them able to protect the public and facilitate policing work. He added that the force has all along been keeping pace with society's rapid development and will continue to strive for innovation to enhance its work. More than 1,000 students from 160 schools took part in the competition. Over 90 awardees were presented with 75 awards. Some of the winning entries will be displayed from tomorrow until October 29, from 10am to 10pm daily, at Times Square's covered piazza in Causeway Bay. Admission is free.
Hong Kong Customs today said it cracked three lobster smuggling cases with its Mainland counterparts and arrested 13 people. At a press briefing, Hong Kong Customs Syndicate Crimes Investigation Bureau Group Head (Special Investigation Group) Rita Li said: “Hong Kong Customs and Mainland law enforcement agencies mounted a joint anti-smuggling operation, code-named JL, targetting cross-boundary lobster smuggling activities from July to September. “About 5,300kg of suspected smuggled lobsters from Australia with an estimated market value of about $4.2 million in total were seized.” The joint operation involved Hong Kong Customs, the Mainland’s Anti-Smuggling Bureau of the General Administration of Customs, the Guangdong Coast Guard, the Anti-Smuggling Bureau of Shenzhen Customs and the Anti-Smuggling Bureau of Gongbei Customs. The Mainland law enforcement agencies first detected a suspected sea smuggling case of lobsters in July. Officers intercepted two fishing vessels in Mainland waters and seized on board about 2,200kg of Australian lobsters with an estimated market value of about $1.7 million. Seven people were arrested and the vessels were also confiscated. In August and September, Hong Kong Customs detected two suspected sea smuggling cases of lobsters in Hong Kong waters and seized about 3,100kg of Australian lobsters with an estimated market value of about $2.5 million. Six people were arrested and a fishing vessel was impounded. Separately, after an in-depth investigation, Hong Kong Customs found that some local lobster importers were likely to have intentionally made inaccurate or incomplete declarations or failed to lodge declarations regarding the import volume of Australian lobsters. It then took enforcement action on October 12 and raided various importers suspected of smuggling Australian lobsters across the city. Seven people were arrested. “The total weight of the undeclared Australian lobsters involved reached 228 tonnes with an estimated market value of about $180 million,” Ms Li added. As it consistently combats cross-boundary smuggling activities, Hong Kong Customs said it will continue collaborating with Mainland law enforcement agencies through intelligence exchanges and special joint operations with a view to enhancing the effectiveness of law enforcement in the anti-smuggling realm.
The enactment of the National Security Law is in line with the international practice of safeguarding national security and the sovereign rights of each state, the Department of Justice (DoJ) said today. In its response to a United Nations special rapporteurs statement on the National Security Law, the department noted that Hong Kong's legal system and rule of law remain robust with law and order restored, enabling its residents to enjoy their rights and freedoms in a safe and peaceful environment. The National Security Law clearly stipulates that the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall protect the rights and freedoms enjoyed by its residents under the Basic Law and the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social & Cultural Rights as applied to Hong Kong in accordance with the law. However, such rights and freedoms are not absolute, the department stressed, adding that the ICCPR expressly states that they may be subject to restrictions as prescribed by law that are necessary for protection of national security, public safety, public order or the rights and freedoms of others and more. In handling cases concerning offences endangering national security, the department's prosecutors must act in accordance with the National Security Law and local law, and all prosecutorial decisions are based on admissible evidence and applicable laws. Cases will never be handled differently owing to the political beliefs or background of the people involved. Prosecutions would be instituted only if there is sufficient admissible evidence to support a reasonable prospect of conviction and is in the public interest to do so. The DoJ noted that said it has been carrying out this constitutional duty in a professional and fair manner, and pointed out that Article 63 of the Basic Law expressly guarantees that all prosecutions are controlled by the department, free from any interference. When adjudicating cases under the National Security Law, as in any other case, judges remain independent and impartial in performing their judicial duties free from any interference. On how to handle applications for bail by people charged with offences endangering national security in accordance with the National Security Law, the Court of Final Appeal has laid down relevant principles in a judgment on February 9. The Basic Law, the National Security Law and provisions of the ICCPR as applied to Hong Kong guarantee defendants' right to a fair trial. As a matter of fact, in the first trial of offences contrary to the National Security Law in the Court of First Instance, the defendant's legal representatives accepted that the defendant would still have a fair trial before a panel of three judges without a jury. No one should comment on cases in respect of which legal proceedings are still ongoing as the matter is sub judice, the department added.
Police today rolled out the "Let's T.A.L.K. - Child Protection Campaign", which is the department's first large-scale education and publicity campaign on child protection. The campaign, which runs until November 27, aims to raise public awareness on child protection and enhance the mental health of carers of children in order to build harmonious families. Speaking at the kick-off ceremony, Commissioner of Police Siu Chak-yee said everyone has a responsibility to provide a healthy and safe environment for children who will become the future masters and pillars of the community. Over the past year, Hong Kong's economy has been hard hit by the COVID-19 epidemic and people from different walks of life have faced various challenges. Mr Siu noted that there was a sharp increase of child abuse cases in the first eight months of this year, a rise of about 70% compared with the same period last year, adding it is a trend that raised people's concern. The commissioner emphasised that Police attach great importance to protecting children from harm and abuse. Additionally, the force has all along been working closely with different stakeholders to promote child protection through a multipronged approach comprising prevention, education, enforcement and support. Noting that individual effort is inadequate to safeguard the well-being of children and ensure their safety, Mr Siu hopes people could recognise through the campaign that their joint efforts with relevant organisations and sectors are crucial in enhancing the child protection work. A series of activities will be arranged during the campaign, including a seminar on precautionary measures against child abuse. A web application will also be launched to share the information and tips of child protection.
The Security Bureau today expressed deep regret over online media Citizens News' report about Secretary for Security Tang Ping-keung's remarks on the legislation on Article 23 of the Basic Law, saying that the report had misled the public. The bureau noted that Citizens News misled its readers about the remarks made by Mr Tang at the press conference on the Policy Address. It clarified that the security chief, when responding to whether the legislation would undermine the freedom of speech, clearly explained that criminal liability should consist of elements of guilty act and mind and there should be sufficient evidence. He said the Department of Justice would decide whether to prosecute after due consideration of the evidence sufficiency, adding that the prosecution is never a hasty decision and people would not be found guilty for simply saying certain things. The bureau pointed out that relevant reports by multiple media were in line with Mr Tang's remarks, while Citizen News' report saying he refused to guarantee that the freedom of speech will not be undermined with the legislation was misleading.
A law amendment tackling voyeurism came into effect today, covering four new offences. The Crimes (Amendment) Ordinance 2021 includes specific offences against voyeurism, unlawful recording or observation of intimate parts, publication of images originating from these two offences, as well as publication or threatened publication of intimate images without consent. These four offences carry a maximum penalty of five years' imprisonment. The Seurity Bureau said it seeks to convey a clear message to the community that there are serious consequences for committing the offences, thereby achieving a deterrent effect and protecting any possible victims. The ordinance also covers the arrangement of disposal orders. This allows the court to order the defendant or any other person to remove, delete or destroy relevant intimate images having regard to the circumstances.
The Personal Data (Privacy) (Amendment) Ordinance 2021 came into effect today to combat malicious doxxing acts so as to protect the public's personal data privacy. Published in the Gazette, the ordinance criminalises doxxing acts and empowers the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data to carry out criminal investigations and institute prosecution towards doxxing-related offences. It also confers on the commissioner statutory powers to issue notices demanding the cessation or restriction of disclosure of doxxing content. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data also published in the Gazette today the implementation guidelines for criminal investigation and prosecution of doxxing-related offences, issue of cessation notices, as well as the ranks of officers authorised with the above powers.
Customs today said it detected the largest smuggling case on record and seized smuggled goods worth about $210 million during an operation last month. The haul included high-value goods, expensive food ingredients and scheduled endangered species. The department targeted an organised smuggling syndicate active in Lung Kwu Tan since June and conducted a joint enforcement operation with Marine Police on September 23 after months of in-depth investigations. The officers spotted several suspicious men moving cartons from a lorry to a speedboat on the shores of Lung Kwu Tan. When the officers took action, the men immediately jumped onto the speedboat and fled. Customs officers also seized a lorry at the scene suspected to be connected to the case. After a follow-up investigation, they raided a storehouse in the vicinity and seized another three lorries, along with a large batch of luxury handbags, valuable watches, expensive food ingredients and specimens of highly endangered species. A 34-year-old man was arrested. Investigations are ongoing.
(To watch the 2021 Policy Address speech with sign language interpretation, click here.) Talent is the most important element in the future development of Hong Kong and education is the key to nurturing talent, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said in her Policy Address today. She noted that as a minority of students have been deluded and radicalised to take part in illegal acts and even organise extreme political activities, Hong Kong must pay more attention to the next generation’s sense of national identity, values and civic mindedness. Mrs Lam added that the Education Bureau must safeguard the well-being of students by effectively monitoring and following up on any issues that involve school management and the conduct of teachers, with a view to restoring Hong Kong’s educational order. To develop students’ positive values and attitudes, the bureau has launched funding programmes to support schools in promoting values education. The Chief Executive highlighted that to safeguard against the adverse effects of disinformation on the Internet, the Government will optimise the use of funding to support schools in promoting media and information literacy education, as well as teaching students how to distinguish the authenticity of information. To encourage University Grants Committee-funded universities to flexibly deploy resources, the over-enrolment ceiling of the committee’s funded research postgraduate programme students will be relaxed from 70% to 100%. The Research Matching Grant Scheme, which is due to end in July next year, will be extended for another two years. Mrs Lam pointed out that Hong Kong cannot meet the needs of economic development simply by nurturing local talent and proposed to double the annual quota under the Quality Migrant Admission Scheme from 2,000 to 4,000 to entice more non-local talent to work in the city. The Government will add two new professions - financial professionals in compliance in asset management and professionals in environmental, social and governance - to the Talent List of Hong Kong. It will also explore the development of professional qualification standards under the Qualifications Framework for the fintech sector to provide a clearer and recognised professional development pathway for employers and practitioners in the industry. To attract legal talent, the Department of Justice will introduce a range of measures, including relaxing the qualification requirements in handling international commercial disputes and clarifying the types of supporting documents required for transactional lawyers. Mrs Lam said she has put forward concrete proposals to the central government to enhance the flow of talent within the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. Relevant central authorities will actively consider facilitating the flow of talent between Guangdong and Hong Kong, especially those arrangements which will facilitate non-Chinese nationals residing in Hong Kong to travel to the bay area’s Mainland cities for business, research, exchanges and visits. They have agreed to discuss the matter with the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government by the end of this year.
Secretary for Security Tang Ping-keung today visited the CLP Power Low Carbon Energy Education Centre and the Mechanical Engineering Department's Nuclear Reactor Simulation Laboratory at City University. Mr Tang toured the education centre and listened to an introduction about the Daya Bay Nuclear Power Station's design and operation. He then went to the Nuclear Reactor Simulation Laboratory to watch an expert demonstration on the way nuclear power stations handle nuclear accidents. Throughout the visit, Mr Tang exchanged views with the senior management of CityU and China Light & Power Company on issues including the future development of nuclear power and safety. The security chief noted that drawing up a sound contingency plan is a requirement of good emergency management and that the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government has put in place a comprehensive Daya Bay Contingency Plan. He added that the Hong Kong SAR Government will closely communicate with the relevant local institutions as well as the relevant national ministries and commission to enhance nuclear emergency preparedness, with a view to minimising the possible public health risks to Hong Kong people in the unlikely event of accidents.