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The National Security Education Day will be held on April 15, the first one after the Hong Kong National Security Law’s implementation, the Government announced today. The day will also mark the launch of the first National Security Education Day events organised by the Committee for Safeguarding National Security of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.  The event, with the theme of Uphold National Security × Safeguard Our Home - Improve Electoral System, Ensure Patriots Administering Hong Kong, aims to raise Hong Kong residents’ awareness on national security, create a positive atmosphere of national security, enhance the capacity to fend off national security risks, deepen understanding of the National Constitution, the Basic Law and national security, and foster national identity. There will be an opening ceremony and seminar, community and school mosaic wall activities as well as open days for academies of disciplined services and a national security exhibition. On July 1, 2015, the 15th meeting of the Standing Committee of the 12th National People’s Congress passed the National Security Law of the People’s Republic of China, and designated April 15 each year as National Security Education Day. The Hong Kong National Security Law was promulgated and implemented on June 30, 2020. Article 3 stipulates that it is the duty of the Hong Kong SAR under the Constitution to safeguard national security and the region shall perform the duty accordingly, while Article 10 stipulates that the region shall promote national security education to raise the awareness of Hong Kong residents of national security and of the obligation to abide by the law. Visit the dedicated website (Chinese only) for event details.
Riding on the success of “Why Hong Kong is Irreplaceable” in February which acknowledged Hong Kong’s strength is premised on infrastructure, talents and business opportunity, the Asian Academy of International Law (AAIL) co-organised with the Department of Justice a series of “Why Hong Kong” webinars. I was honoured to be invited to deliver a keynote speech at the first webinar, “Why Arbitrate in Hong Kong”, on March 31. There were around 600 registrations from about 55 jurisdictions. The full event is now available for review at AAIL’s website. I would like to take this opportunity to share with you some of the insightful and valuable views of the panel speakers. The opportunities in the Greater Bay Area development, highlights the importance of intellectual property (IP) rights protection and efficient resolution of IP disputes. As pointed out by one of the speakers, IP rights are generally territorial and in some countries IP rights are not arbitrable owing to public policy considerations. In advising her client to choose Hong Kong as a seat of arbitration, the speaker pointed out that the arbitrability of IP rights in Hong Kong as set out in the Arbitration Ordinance is an attraction. Parties prefer to arbitrate rather than litigate in open courts disputes involving IP, so as to benefit from the confidentiality afforded to the technology and know-how from being exposed to the public. China, being the second largest economy in the world, provides ample business opportunities. The availability and enforceability of interim measures play an important role in the choice of seat of arbitration. Hong Kong, with its unique advantages under the “one country, two systems”, reached the interim measures arrangement with the Mainland, which allows parties to arbitral proceedings that are seated in Hong Kong and administered by one of the six arbitral institutions to apply to the Mainland courts for such measures. Hong Kong is the only jurisdiction outside the Mainland where this is possible. Third party funding is often used in investment and commercial disputes. The speakers pointed out that in Hong Kong, third party funding is not only useful to fund impecunious companies to pursue their claims but also generally welcomed by other enterprises. The regulatory framework in the Code of Practice for Third Party Funding of Arbitration sets out the practices and standards with which third party funders are to comply and serves to encourage its use but also provide necessary protection to parties that receive funding. In that way, third party funding serves not just as a tool for access to justice but also for business opportunities when it is engaged to ease the cash flow problems of going concern, especially in this difficult times of the economy due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the last session of the webinar in investment arbitration, the speakers pointed out that there are abundance of talents experienced in the construction field. It is particularly relevant to the Belt & Road initiative as most of the projects are construction-related. Being a gateway for investment to and from China, Hong Kong and the Mainland signed the CEPA (Mainland & Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Agreement) Investment Agreement which provides for promotion and protection of investments between the two jurisdictions. It is noteworthy that investment mediation is the only available mechanism for resolving investment disputes under the CEPA Investment Agreement. Hong Kong has been active in promoting the use of mediation to resolve investment disputes and providing training in this area with a view to building up a team of investment mediators specialised in handling international investment disputes in Asia. In April, there will be the “Why invest in Hong Kong: Current Opportunities” and investment opportunities will be discussed. One of the new initiatives in Hong Kong is to look at how to provide a level playing field compared with other popular arbitral seats which allow some form of contingency fee structures. The Law Reform Commission has undertaken a consultation to examine the recommendation by its sub-committee of permitting lawyers to use outcome related fee structures for arbitration taking place in and outside Hong Kong. Finally, I noted that the speakers shared their experience in a common theme: neutrality - the neutrality in arbitral tribunals, supervising courts and the legislative framework. If I may echo the words of one of the speakers, the Arbitration Ordinance provides an important gate-keeping function in terms of neutrality. It is kept up to date and amended to implement developments quickly. Last month an amendment was made to reflect and implement the Supplemental Arrangement Concerning Mutual Enforcement of Arbitral Awards reached between Hong Kong and the Mainland in November last year and that will reinforce our strength as an arbitration friendly jurisdiction. The 14th Five-Year Plan continues to support Hong Kong to enhance its status as an international financial centre and establish itself as a centre for international legal and dispute resolution services in the Asia-Pacific region. There is also clear policy support for Hong Kong to develop into an international innovation and technology hub and a regional intellectual property trading centre, etc. In order to avail ourselves of this opportunity, Hong Kong will continue to capitalise on its uniqueness of being the only common law jurisdiction in China by actively promoting the use of Hong Kong law as the governing law of contractual disputes. The importance of Hong Kong law in deal-making is widely recognised and we will further explore the advantages of it in the upcoming webinar “Why Use Hong Kong Law” to be held in May. It is promising to see that the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre and the Law Society of Hong Kong have also organised a series of webinars to promote Hong Kong. With collaboration and synergy, the bodies in Hong Kong will work together to further promote the interests of Hong Kong in the legal and dispute resolution sector. The shift of global economy is without a doubt moving to Asia. It is inevitable that more transactions generate more disputes. Ideally, disputes should be dealt with in the region where the transactions took place, for costs and efficiency but also for the understanding of the culture within the region. It is encouraging to see that other parts in Asia have been developing in the provision of arbitral service. Through fair, open and clean competition, and collaboration, all those involved in the provision of services will be able to bring about benefits for the users of arbitration. I believe that Hong Kong’s continued improvements as a hub for international legal, deal-making and dispute resolution services in the Asia-Pacific region will create positive synergies and generate more deals. Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng wrote this article and posted it on the Department of Justice website on April 11.
Customs yesterday seized a total of 8,805 items of 14 models of shower gels, household cleaning detergents and clothing bleach suspected of breaching goods safety laws from various premises of a chain retailing group. One person was arrested. The product information marked on the packaging failed to bear Chinese and English bilingual warnings or cautions which is suspected to be in contravention of the Consumer Goods Safety Regulation, a subsidiary legislation of the Consumer Goods Safety Ordinance. The estimated market value of the products seized was about $400,000. Customs earlier received information alleging the sale of the household cleaning detergents at the chain retailer's shops in Tsuen Wan and Sha Tin. Its officers conducted an investigation and test-purchased 14 models of the products concerned from six retailing shops in Admiralty, Quarry Bay, Mong Kok, Tsuen Wan and Sha Tin. The department found that the products lacked warnings or cautions in Chinese on their safe keeping, use, consumption or disposal. Twelve models had warnings or cautions only in Thai, while two models carried Thai and English warnings. Customs officers yesterday conducted an operation and seized products connected with the case from 25 shops of the chain retailer in Admiralty, Quarry Bay, Mong Kok, Sham Shui Po, Wong Tai Sin, Diamond Hill, Kowloon City, Ngau Tau Kok, Tsing Yi, Tsuen Wan, Sha Tin, Ma On Shan, Tseung Kwan O, Tai Po, Fanling, Tuen Mun and Yuen Long as well as a storehouse in Tsuen Wan. The retail price of the products ranged between $6 and $95. A 33-year-old male director of the chain retailer was arrested. Customs noted that an investigation is ongoing and it cannot rule out further arrests. An initial investigation revealed that the products were imported by the chain retailer from Thailand into Hong Kong. The department will arrange further safety tests to ascertain whether the products are in compliance with relevant safety standards. Apart from the chain retailer connected with the case, the department also checked multiple retail spots in various districts and no such products have been found for sale so far. Under the regulation, where consumer goods or their packages are marked with warnings or cautions with respect to their safe keeping, use, consumption or disposal, such warnings or cautions shall be in both English and Chinese languages. Moreover, the warning or caution phrases must be legibly and conspicuously shown on the goods, any package of the goods, a label securely affixed to the package or a document enclosed in the package. Offenders are liable to a maximum fine of $100,000 and imprisonment for one year on first conviction, and $500,000 and imprisonment for two years on subsequent convictions. Call 2545 6182 or send an email to report information relating to unsafe or law-breaking consumer goods.
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government today made a solemn statement to oppose and express strong disapproval of the harbouring of criminals in any form by any country, region, organisation or individual. In the statement, the Hong Kong SAR Government emphasised that any society that upholds the rule of law should not accept anyone being above the law or having the privilege to break the law without facing legal consequences. It pointed out that following a series of riots and illegal acts advocating Hong Kong independence since June 2019, a number of criminals who committed serious offences in Hong Kong have absconded to evade legal responsibilities. The offences include serious wounding, arson, making petrol bombs or explosives, criminal damage, rioting and collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security. These criminals made up numerous excuses, including lying to the court for approval to leave Hong Kong and alleging that they were prosecuted for political reasons, to deliberately escape justice, the statement said, adding that these are shameful and cowardly acts. The Hong Kong SAR Government stressed that in Hong Kong, any arrest and prosecution is directed against the criminal act and has nothing to do with the political stance, background or thought of the person or people concerned. Arrests and prosecutions are based on facts and evidence and conducted in strict accordance with the law. It noted that the Department of Justice controls criminal prosecutions, free from any interference and that Hong Kong has an independent judiciary with the power of final adjudication. Everyone shall receive a fair and just trial, it added. The statement pointed out any country, region, organisation or individual that harbours Hong Kong criminals in any form shows contempt for the rule of law, grossly disrespects Hong Kong's legal systems and barbarically interferes in the city's affairs. The Hong Kong SAR Government said it strongly opposes and deplores such acts. They harbour these criminals who set fires, wounded others, made explosives, engaged in riots and endangered public safety, and shelter them in their country or region, the statement said. They shall eventually bear the consequences of what they have done as they turn a blind eye to the offences committed by these criminals and disregard the potential security threats posed to the local community and residents, it noted.
Hong Kong Special Administrative Region passport holders may visit Oman without a visa for up to 10 days, the Immigration Department announced today. The department received notification from the Honorary Consulate of the Sultanate of Oman in Hong Kong. Noting that Oman is along the Belt & Road, the department said the visa-free arrangement will bring greater travel convenience to Hong Kong travellers after the COVID-19 epidemic and strengthen the tourism, cultural and economic ties between the two places. Including Oman, 168 countries and territories have granted visa-free access or visa-on-arrival to Hong Kong SAR passport holders. Meanwhile, the Red Outbound Travel Alert issued by the Hong Kong SAR Government on March 17 last year is still in force given that the COVID-19 situation around the world is evolving rapidly. People are strongly urged to avoid non-essential travel outside Hong Kong.
An operational event at Taishan Nuclear Power Station on April 5 did not affect the plant’s safe operation, the Security Bureau said today. The case, reported on the Taishan Nuclear Power Joint Venture Co’s website, involved the exhaust gas treatment system of the station’s Unit 1. During a planned special operation performed by the system, the monitoring system indicated that there was a short-term release of a very small amount of gas, which was dealt with in a timely manner.   Upon checking, it was confirmed that the gas emitted in the event only amounted to 0.00044% of the annual limit. The bureau said the event was classified as a Level 0 deviation in accordance with the International Nuclear & Radiological Event Scale and relevant nuclear safety regulations, adding that it did not affect the unit’s safe operation, workers’ health, nearby public or the environment. According to the radiation monitoring results from the Hong Kong Observatory, the environmental radiation levels in the city have remained normal since the occurrence.
Customs today seized a batch of suspected law-breaking products from a chain retailing group and condemned any false accusation maliciously alleging that its action against the trader is repression. It seized a batch of 14 models of suspected law-breaking shower gels, household cleaning detergents and clothing bleaches from various premises of the chain retailing group. The product information marked on the packages of the products involved failed to bear bilingual warnings or cautions for their safekeeping, use, consumption or disposal, suspected to be in contravention of the Consumer Goods Safety Regulation, a subsidiary legislation of the Consumer Goods Safety Ordinance. Customs said an investigation is ongoing and did not exclude the likelihood of more arrests. For the sake of public interest, the department will make a public announcement on details of the case on April 9 and alert the public on the suspected law-breaking products. Customs added it will take all necessary actions, under which decisive law enforcement action will be taken if any suspected violation is found.
An operational event at Ling Ao Nuclear Power Station on March 31 did not affect the plant's safe operation, the Security Bureau said today. The case, reported on the Daya Bay Nuclear Power Operations & Management Company's website, involved a relay in the backup diesel generator of the station's Unit 1. During a regular test, station staff found a dysfunctional relay and immediately replaced it according to the procedures. Its function has returned to normal after replacement. Relevant statistics suggested that the dysfunction time of the relay had exceeded the operational and technical requirements. The bureau said the event was classified as a Level 0 deviation in accordance with the International Nuclear & Radiological Event Scale and relevant nuclear safety regulations, adding that it did not affect the unit's safe operation, workers' health, nearby public or the environment.
The Government today said it has completed a joint enforcement operation on a compulsory testing notice for two buildings in Sheung Wan. The notice covered Cherry Crest, 3 Kui In Fong and View Villa, 38 Tai Ping Shan Street.  The enforcement action was conducted from around 7am to 10.30am by the Central & Western District Office, together with Customs, Police and the Auxiliary Medical Service.  About 160 residents' test records were checked during the operation. Among them, five poeple were found to have violated the compulsory testing notice and issued with compulsory testing orders. Noting that the enforcement process may cause inconvenience to residents, the Government appealed for their understanding as the operation was conducted to stop the spread of COVID-19. 
The Anti-Deception Co-ordination Centre (ADCC) of Police’s Commercial Crime Bureau today launched the ADCC One-stop Platform website to enhance publicity of anti-scam messages to fight against and prevent deception. The website provides a variety of useful information, including scam alerts on the latest deception trends and anti-scam promotional videos produced by the force. It also comprises an anti-deception events calendar with anti-scam activities organised by various departments and non-profit-making organisations and statistics of various kinds of scams. Members of the public can also make use of the e-Report Centre link provided by the website to report deception cases to Police.