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The Government today welcomed the Legislative Council Finance Committee’s approval of the recommendations on salary and increment contained in the Report on the Grade Structure Review for the Disciplined Services. The Government said it hopes that with the implementation of the recommendations, the grade structures and remuneration of the disciplined services will continue to be effective in attracting and retaining talent. Secretary for the Civil Service Patrick Nip said that since the completion of the previous grade structure review for the disciplined services in 2008, there have been significant changes in the social and economic environment of Hong Kong. “The spate of social unrest and violent events in 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic together with the responsibilities for safeguarding national security have also increased significantly the workload and pressure of the disciplined services. “The recommendations put forward in this grade structure review for the disciplined services, as well as the support from LegCo for these recommendations are a manifestation of the full recognition by the Government and various sectors of the community of the dedication and determination of disciplined services colleagues.” The Government expressed gratitude to the Standing Committee on Disciplined Services Salaries & Conditions of Service and the Standing Committee on Directorate Salaries & Conditions of Service for making the recommendations in the report, Mr Nip added. Following the Finance Committee's approval, the recommendations on salary and increment as well as the normal conversion arrangement for serving staff in the affected ranks should be implemented from September 1.
Police said today that they laid a charge against a 19-year-old woman with one count of conspiracy to incite the commission by other people of the offence of subversion under the National Security Law. She was arrested for violating Articles 22 and 23 of the National Security Law yesterday. The case will be mentioned at the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts this afternoon.
Secretary for Security Tang Ping-keung inspected the Fire Services Department’s passing-out parade for nine station officers, 53 firemen and 16 ambulancemen at the Fire & Ambulance Services Academy today. He also reviewed the parade for eight senior fire officers of the Mobilising & Communications Group. Speaking at the parade, Mr Tang said the fire and ambulance services are vital elements in maintaining Hong Kong’s safety, and fire and ambulance personnel constantly encounter various risks and challenges while discharging their duties. He mentioned his visit to the department’s headquarters and Tsim Tung Fire Station last month, adding that department members remain steadfast in carrying out their duties, showing professionalism and exceptional bravery. The security chief hoped that the graduates could see their seniors as role models, based on the solid foundation they have established to uphold the faith and pass it on. He noted that the department spares no effort to strive for excellence on firefighting, special rescue, ambulance services, communications and fire prevention. A number of emergency rescue specialist teams have been established in recent years to enhance frontline personnel’s firefighting and rescue capabilities as well as operational safety. Mr Tang said fire and ambulance work involve immediate rescue and treatment services, bringing hope to people who are in extreme plight. The department’s unremitting and concerted efforts to safeguard Hong Kong are widely recognised by society. The parade was followed by a demonstration of firefighting and rescue techniques by the graduates.
We must remain vigilant - the stability could be short-lived if we let our guard down, especially when local terrorism, which previously remained underground, has surfaced recently. On July 1 this year, which is the 24th anniversary of our return to our motherland, a man stabbed a policeman in a busy street of Hong Kong and committed suicide afterwards. The attacker was believed to have been radicalised by numerous fake information posted in local media. Following the attack, messages that honoured and paid tribute to the attacker and attempted to romanticise and glorify the despicable act with seditious intent to incite hatred in society were circulated online. The society was further disconcerted by a statement made by a student association of a local university, stating that the association was "grateful for [the attacker's] sacrifice". In the same month, members of a terrorist group were arrested. Evidence showed that they were plotting to set bombs in public places (including courts and tunnels), illustrating the lingering national security threat which the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region faces. It is fortunate that we now have the legal tool to sanction the acts advocating or promoting terrorism by virtue of the Hong Kong National Security Law as well as other local laws, to bring those criminals to face justice. Clear and present dangerTo the general public of Hong Kong, before the serious violence and riots in 2019, such scenarios would only show up in news reports on terrorist attacks in other countries, or in movie scenes. The threat is now real and it begs the question - why are all these happening now? In the four decades or so before the violent riots, Hong Kong had been witnessing a steady decline in its crime figures. The encouraging trend, however, was disrupted and reversed by the serious violence and riots, with rioters preaching what they called "mutual destruction", to jump off the cliff with Hong Kong. Some shameless individuals even incited the young people "to break the law to achieve justice". It is also ridiculous that some countries smear the Hong Kong National Security Law, or even ask the Hong Kong National Security Law to be abolished, when these very countries have their own national security laws, many more stringent or having a wider scope than the Hong Kong National Security Law. I could not find a better word than "double standard" to describe these countries. Moreover, as I have elaborated above, we have to stay alert of the rekindling of national security risks that remain. To look at the matter in greater depth, the emergence of the acts and activities endangering national security was fuelled by conspirators who managed to get their way into public offices through open elections. In recent years, these people made use of their status as public officers to obstruct or even paralyse the operation of the Government, and glorified the violent acts of the rioters, trying to sway the public opinion to distrust the Government. Some even colluded with external forces to undermine both our country's and Hong Kong's security and interests. This chaos has exposed that there are indeed loopholes and deficiencies in Hong Kong's electoral system. Way out of the hazardHence, to truly achieve long-term stability and safety, not only the Hong Kong National Security Law has to continue to be in effect; the electoral system of the Hong Kong SAR must also be improved to uphold the principle of "one country, two systems" and fully implement the principle of "patriots administering Hong Kong". In this regard, in March 2021, with the authorisation of the National People's Congress (NPC), the Standing Committee of the NPC adopted the amended Annexes I and II to the Basic Law covering the method for the selection of the Chief Executive and the method for the formation of the Legislative Council respectively. The Hong Kong SAR Government subsequently gazetted the Improving Electoral System (Consolidated Amendments) Ordinance 2021, which was passed by the Legislative Council and came into effect in May. At the same time, the Public Offices (Candidacy & Taking Up Offices) (Miscellaneous Amendments) Ordinance 2021 came into effect on May 21, which enhances the oath-taking requirement for public officers, including District Council members, as well as provides for the handling mechanism for breach of oaths. On top of all government officials and civil servants who have already pledged, the oath-taking by District Council members is now underway. The Hong Kong SAR Government will also gradually extend the oath-taking to officers of certain statutory bodies; let me make it clear that the oath only requires one's affirmation to uphold the Basic Law and swear allegiance to the Hong Kong SAR in accordance with the law, which any person holding a public position in Hong Kong could hardly dispute. With the full implementation of the principle of "patriots administering Hong Kong" and the Hong Kong National Security Law, the Hong Kong SAR Government is now well equipped to prevent and suppress acts endangering national security, focus our attention and energy to address Hong Kong people's concerns in the social, livelihood and economic fields, achieve good governance for the public good, and make best use of the opportunities in the Greater Bay Area so as to ensure the continued prosperity of Hong Kong. I am sure that as long term stability and safety are achieved, even more opportunities await. Hence, I hope you will join me in supporting the Hong Kong National Security Law and the improvement of our electoral system, and together we shall explore and capture the vast opportunities ahead. Secretary for Security Tang Ping-keung gave these remarks at a side event webinar at the 48th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council on September 23.
A 19-year-old local woman in Mong Kok was arrested today on suspicion of violating the National Security Law. The Police National Security Department arrested the woman in respect of enforcement operations on September 20 for suspected conspiracy to incite the commission by other people of the offence of subversion under Article 22 and 23 of the National Security Law. She is being detained for further enquiries. An investigation is underway and further arrests may be made.
Hong Kong and Russia today signed bilateral agreements on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters and the transfer of sentenced persons. The agreements were signed by Secretary for Security Tang Ping-keung and Russian Minister of Justice Konstantin Chuychenko via video conference. At the signing ceremony, Mr Tang said both Hong Kong and Russia are committed players in the international efforts to fight crimes and the signing of such agreements represents an important step forward in legal co-operation between the two places. Under the Basic Law, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government can, with the authorisation of the Central People’s Government, make appropriate arrangements with foreign states for reciprocal juridical assistance. The mutual legal assistance agreement contains the essential features and safeguards of international agreements of this type. The assistance covered included identifying and locating people, serving documents, taking evidence, executing requests for search and seizure, providing information and confiscating proceeds of crime. The agreement on the transfer of sentenced persons embodies the shared conviction of both places that allowing such people to return to their places of origin, where there are no language or cultural barriers and where friends and relatives can pay more visits, is conducive to their rehabilitation. Hong Kong’s policy is therefore to facilitate such transfers between the city and other jurisdictions as far as possible.
The Election Committee Subsector Ordinary Elections were held successfully yesterday. It signifies an important milestone in Hong Kong’s democratic electoral system. I would like to extend my congratulations to all the elected members, including the 15 members from the Legal Subsector. They will be joined by the ex-officio members, nominees by eligible bodies and candidates who have been returned uncontested to form the new term of the Election Committee which is entrusted with the important task of nomination and election of the Chief Executive. They are also given two new functions in the electoral system - nomination of candidates for the Legislative Council election and election of 40 LegCo members. Political security is fundamental to national security. I am very grateful to the National People’s Congress for swiftly making a decision on improving our electoral system in accordance with the law after carefully considering the actual situation of Hong Kong. It ensures the steadfast and successful implementation of “one country, two systems”, safeguarding the sovereignty, security and development interests of the country, as well as ensuring the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong. It has come to my attention that the turnover rate in the Legal Subsector is 100%, demonstrating that the legal sector has placed great importance to the elections. I will arrange for a meeting with all the Election Committee members from the Legal Subsector at the soonest possible so that we can jointly explore ways to seize the opportunities brought about by the 14th Five-Year Plan, the Greater Bay Area development and the Qianhai Plan, as well as integrate the needs of the country with the strengths of Hong Kong. We are determined to establish Hong Kong as a centre for international legal and dispute resolution services in the Asia-Pacific region so as to facilitate the long-term development of Hong Kong, the bay area as well as the whole country by proactively participating in the national development. Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng wrote this article and posted it on her blog on September 20.
The Police National Security Department launched enforcement operations in various districts today after an in-depth investigation and arrested three people who are suspected of contravening the National Security Law. Those apprehended, two men and one woman aged 18 to 20, are members of an organisation and are being detained for further inquiries. The trio were arrested for conspiracy to incite the commission by other people of the offence of subversion, contravening Article 23 of the National Security Law. Police also seized large quantities of exhibits at the organisation's warehouse and the arrestees' residences, including electrical appliances and suspected supplies to be sent to people in custody.
Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng today spoke with secondary and university students about the Basic Law and national security at a youth forum. At the session, she discussed how they should properly understand the Constitution, the Basic Law, national security and the concept of the rule of law. Ms Cheng pointed out that the National People’s Congress, as the highest organ of state power in the People’s Republic of China, shall exercise powers to decide on the establishment of special administrative regions and the systems to be instituted. She said that Article 1 of the Basic Law stipulates that the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is an inalienable part of the People’s Republic of China, meaning “one country” is the basis of “two systems”. Citing examples to illustrate traditional and non-traditional security under national security, Ms Cheng emphasised the importance of enacting the National Security Law (NSL) and improving the electoral system in the implementation of “one country, two systems”. The NSL has plugged national security loopholes that existed in Hong Kong by effectively preventing, suppressing and imposing punishment for any act endangering national security, she stated. Furthermore, Ms Cheng explained the NSL’s extraterritorial application, granting of bail and other legal matters in order to clear misconceptions in the community. Stressing that political security is fundamental to national security, she highlighted that the improvements to Hong Kong’s electoral system bring about balanced and orderly political participation as well as broader representation, ensuring the steadfast and successful implementation of “one country, two systems”. Noting there used to be suggestions that deliberate lawbreaking might be considered in order to achieve objectives, Ms Cheng strongly refuted such misinformation and urged young people to distinguish right from wrong and not to engage in any illegal activities. She also introduced the students to the Vision 2030 for Rule of Law initiative organised by the Department of Justice and called on them to take part in the activities under the plan. At the end of the forum, she expressed hope that the forum would enhance students’ proper comprehension of the Constitution, the Basic Law, the NSL and the spirit of the rule of law. She also invited them to promote such concepts to their peers and friends.
The number of reported drug abusers in Hong Kong fell 5% year-on-year in the first half of 2021, 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 rose 76% during the period. The number of reported psychotropic substance abusers went up 20%, while the number of reported narcotic analgesic abusers decreased 34% in the same period. Heroin remained the frequently abused drug in the city, while methamphetamine continued to be the most common psychotropic substance abused. The committee’s Chairman Dr Donald Li noted that there has recently been a rising trend in cannabis and ketamine abuse, and the number of cocaine abusers also increased. The situation of young people reported as abusing these drugs warrants particular attention, he added. Commissioner for Narcotics Ivy Law also reminded young people that drug offences are liable to serious criminal punishment.