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Police today said it is high time that Hong Kong put an end to violence for good and urged people to stop challenging the rule of law. Police Public Relations Branch Chief Superintendent Kwok Ka-chuen made the remarks during a press conference, saying social unrest and widespread rioting have plunged Hong Kong into a chaotic and panic situation over the past six months. Mr Kwok said: “Almost every MTR station has suffered varying degrees of damage. The MTR University Station, for instance, was just reopened after being closed for almost one month.” He noted that main transport routes and harbour crossings have been blocked and over 700 sets of traffic lights have been damaged. “I am sure you all may ask: When will this man-made disaster come to an end? Restoring public safety and order does not count on Police’s efforts alone. Every sector of society plays an important role.” He added Police will spend every effort to give citizens a truly peaceful and merry Christmas.
The violence and vandalism in recent months sparked a crisis of confidence of our rule of law. The so-called justice lawbreaking or civil disobedience is never justified under the law. I urge all of you not to engage in any illegal activities. The Court of Final Appeal in its judgment (FACC8-10/2017) pointed out that: (1) unlawful assemblies involving violence, even a relatively low degree, will not be condoned and may justifiably attract sentences of immediate imprisonment in the future; and (2) little weight will be given to the mitigation that the offending act was committed in the exercise of constitutional rights or acts of civil disobedience because the fact of a conviction will necessarily mean the offender has crossed the line separating the lawful exercise of his constitutional rights from unlawful activity subject to sanctions and constraints. There are suggestions that deliberate lawbreaking might be considered to achieve objectives, however, this would bring a wrong concept of the rule of law. The escalated violence and vandalism in the last few months have also undermined the perception of the rule of law among the public. My colleagues and I would promote and publicise the correct concept of the rule of law to the citizens through different channels. In analysing the current situation, I hope that we all could remain reasonable and objective by keeping an open mind, being informed and considering all relevant facts before coming to a conclusion. Our rule of law has been highly regarded, and such an achievement was not easy to come by. We should all join hands to cherish and safeguard our rule of law. Abiding by the law is one of the many obligations that ought to be observed by the public. Law exists in practice but it should not only be practised by lawyers, judges and governments. More importantly, the rule of law should be observed and respected by the community as a whole. The Government would continue to be strongly committed to upholding the rule of law. Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng wrote this article and posted it on her blog on December 22.
Hongkong Post today reminded people to beware of pop-up scams with links to fake websites. It said these fake websites, impersonating those of Hongkong Post, invite people to participate in an online survey or lucky draw and request them to provide personal and credit card information to win a prize. Hongkong Post said it is currently not conducting an online survey or lucky draw, and advised people not to click on any suspicious links or pop-up windows, disclose any personal information, or make any payments. The fraudulent websites have been reported to Police, it added. Call 2921 2222 for enquiries.
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government today expressed strong opposition to Taiwan authorities’ repeated unfounded claims regarding legal assistance between Hong Kong and Taiwan. Responding to media enquiries, it said Taiwan authorities are still repeatedly making irresponsible and slanderous remarks about Hong Kong, even though it clearly understands that Hong Kong has no law to provide legal assistance and surrender fugitives to Taiwan. The Hong Kong SAR Government expressed its objection and discontent with this. To combat crimes, the Hong Kong SAR Government has already provided materials to Taiwan authorities within the confines of its system. It urged Taiwan authorities not to put politics before the rule of law and use cases of Chan Tong-kai and the suspect Lam as excuses to jeopardise the rule of law. Taiwan authorities’ remarks are tantamount to requesting the Hong Kong SAR Government to violate its own laws, the statement said. Hong Kong cannot agree with Taiwan authorities’ exercising the rule of law with political considerations, it said, adding that this violates the city’s spirit of the rule of law.
All traffic lights in Hong Kong have resumed normal operation after the collaborative efforts of various departments, the Transport Department announced today. Since June, about 740 sets of traffic lights in various districts have been damaged, the department said. Some traffic lights were repeatedly damaged and the ones in Yau Tsim Mong District were the most severely affected. The damage in October and November was more serious than in earlier months, with a number of controllers and components damaged.  Relevant departments will strengthen the protection measures of traffic lights, it noted. Traffic lights play a vital role in co-ordinating traffic at junctions and ensuring road safety, the department said, adding that pedestrian traffic lights are particularly essential for the elderly and disabled. Traffic lights equipped with electronic audible traffic signals are also important to the visually impaired, it pointed out. The department appealed to the public to stop damaging traffic lights and other road facilities.
The Department of Justice Prosecutions Division today released its annual report, which reviews its work and key cases in 2018. In the report, Director of Public Prosecutions David Leung said the accusation of political prosecution saddened him. Mr Leung emphasised that the division’s prosecutors do not seek to secure a conviction at all costs and its role is to ensure that every defendant receives a fair trial. “We prosecute in the name of the public for the good of Hong Kong. We shall do so even though it is an increasingly thankless task. We shall do so amidst tides of criticisms and abuses. “We shall brave the storm, together as a division; and with dignity, fulfil our duty to uphold justice. We strive to do our best to maintain a high quality prosecution service.” The report also noted the division’s efforts in keeping prosecutors abreast of the latest developments in procedural and substantive law and in honing their knowledge and skills.
Hong Kong citizens will be subject to the other jurisdiction’s laws once they leave the city and that applies to the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge as well. Secretary for Security John Lee made the remark today in response to media questions about a Hong Kong man travelling to Macau who was arrested at a temporary checkpoint set up on an eastern artificial island of the bridge and taken to Zhuhai. “In a jurisdiction which belongs to a particular place that means the law enforcement agencies can enforce the law within its jurisdiction according to the need and according to the actual circumstances. “For security operations, it would be up to the responsible jurisdiction to make the operational plan and also the other arrangements which include letting people know how they would operate. “In that principle, it would be up to the Zhuhai law enforcement agencies to make that announcement.” He added that people should be made aware that Hong Kong laws no longer apply once they leave the city. “I think it is important for people to understand once you leave the jurisdiction of Hong Kong, then you will be subject to the law of the other jurisdiction. “That is a lesson, that is a message, that is an important legal concept that I think people of Hong Kong must know, so that they will understand at what point they may be subject to which jurisdiction and what laws.”
Acting Chief Executive Matthew Cheung said that Mainland authorities have jurisdiction over a checkpoint on an eastern artificial island linked to the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge. Speaking to reporters before an Executive Council meeting this morning, Mr Cheung explained that the new Mainland checkpoint is a temporary security measure. “As it is an operational matter on the part of the Mainland authorities, so I am not prepared to comment on that. But it's perfectly justified for them to exercise jurisdiction within their own territory. It's entirely legal and justified.”
The Transport Advisory Committee today was briefed on the measures and train service arrangements implemented by the Mass Transit Railway Corporation to cope with large-scale public order events since June. The committee noted that in response to the recent vandalism of station facilities, the MTRC took measures to ensure the safety of passengers, staff and the railway. Relevant government departments have been in close communication with the MTRC and have requested it to take all necessary actions to ensure the safety of the railway. These actions include conducting safety risk assessments of railway stations, facilities and operations, reviewing existing designs, procedures and arrangements for handling emergencies and making improvements and conducting drills to minimise the possible impact on the safety of railway operations due to public order events. The committee’s Chairman Prof Stephen Cheung said committee members welcomed the measures taken by the MTRC to enhance security and to protect the safety of passengers and MTR staff.
The Correctional Services Department today dismissed a media report claiming that people in custody receiving treatment in Siu Lam Psychiatric Centre were found dead and secretly removed from the centre. The department said that according to the existing mechanism and laws, if a person in custody dies during incarceration in a penal institution, the case would be reported to Police for investigation and the Coroner’s Court would hold a death inquest.    Noting that the centre detains people who require mental health care, psychiatric observation, treatment or assessment, the department said Hospital Authority psychiatrists will visit the centre every working day to provide them with mental health services. Correctional officers with psychiatric nursing qualifications will also assist the psychiatrists, it added. The department severely condemned the irresponsible report.