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In view of the latest situation in Malaysia, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government today adjusted its outbound travel alert for Malaysia by maintaining the amber alert for the coastal regions of eastern Sabah only, while removing the amber alert for the rest of the country. Hong Kong residents who plan to visit the coastal regions of eastern Sabah or are already there should monitor the situation, exercise caution, attend to their personal safety and avoid travelling to places with large gatherings of people. They should also pay attention to announcements by local authorities. The Security Bureau will closely monitor any developments and issue updates through the media, its own mobile app and its website. Those who need assistance can call the 24-hour hotline of the Immigration Department’s Assistance to Hong Kong Residents Unit on (852) 1868, phone the 1868 hotline using network data via the department’s mobile app, send messages to the 1868 WhatsApp assistance account, or submit an Online Assistance Request Form. They can also contact the Chinese Embassy or Consulate-General in Malaysia on the consular protection hotline by dialling (60) 321645301 or (60) 128861953.
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government today said it strongly disapproved of and firmly rejected the wanton slanders and smears concerning the implementation of “one country, two systems” and the National Security Law (NSL) in Hong Kong by certain US and UK politicians. In a statement issued tonight, the Hong Kong SAR Government noted that such slanders and smears were recently made through a statement by certain members of the US Senate on the 26th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to the motherland and the third anniversary of the implementation of the NSL, and by the House of Commons of the UK Parliament through a debate on the aforesaid third anniversary. It said it strongly disapproves of and firmly rejects the unfounded remarks and slanders by the US and UK politicians regarding the Hong Kong SAR where “one country, two systems” is successfully implemented. It also strongly urges the politicians to immediately stop acting against the international law and basic norms of international relations and interfering in Hong Kong matters, which are purely China’s internal affairs. The Hong Kong SAR Government pointed out that the US and UK politicians wantonly put politics above the rule of law. Their attempts by despicable political manoeuvres to interfere in Hong Kong’s law-based governance, and undermine the city’s rule of law as well as its prosperity and stability, will only expose their own weaknesses and faulty arguments and be doomed to fail. Once again, they ignored the acts and activities that severely damaged Hong Kong’s society, economy and business environment in the “black-clad violence” and Hong Kong version of “colour revolution” back in 2019. Neither did they say a word about the fact that the NSL’s successful implementation has enabled the livelihood and economic activities of the Hong Kong community at large to resume as normal and the business environment to be restored. Instead, they wantonly attacked, by making and spreading absurd, unfounded and fact-twisting remarks, the Hong Kong SAR in its dutiful, faithful and lawful implementation of the NSL. The politicians’ hypocrisy with double-standards have long been exposed. Their ill intentions will prove to be futile. The statement stressed that the Hong Kong SAR is an inalienable part of the People’s Republic of China. It is a local administrative region that enjoys a high degree of autonomy under “one country, two systems” and comes directly under the Central People’s Government. The judicial system of Hong Kong has always been highly regarded by international communities. Any attempt by any country, organisation, or individual to interfere with the judicial proceedings in the Hong Kong SAR by means of political power, in order to procure a defendant’s evasion of the criminal justice process, is a reprehensible act undermining the rule of law of Hong Kong. Making remarks with the intent to interfere with or obstruct the course of justice, or engaging in conduct with the same intent, is very likely to constitute the offence of criminal contempt of court or the offence of perverting the course of justice. That Hong Kong is a society underpinned by the rule of law and has always adhered to the principle that laws must be obeyed and lawbreakers held accountable is well recognised by international communities, the statement emphasised. When discharging duties under the NSL, the Hong Kong SAR law enforcement agencies take law enforcement actions, based on evidence and strictly in accordance with the law, against any people, institutions or organisations that endanger national security. Such actions have nothing to do with their political stance, background or occupation. The Hong Kong SAR Government specified that any suggestion that people, institutions or organisations with certain backgrounds should be immune from legal sanctions for their illegal acts and activities is tantamount to granting privileges to them to break the law. It is totally contrary to the spirit of the rule of law. It explained that the Department of Justice (DoJ) of the Hong Kong SAR, by virtue of Article 63 of the Basic Law, controls criminal prosecutions, free from any interference. Independent prosecutorial decisions for each case are made in a rigorous and objective manner, strictly based on evidence and applicable laws and are in accordance with the Prosecution Code. Prosecutions would be instituted by the DoJ only if there is sufficient admissible evidence to support a reasonable prospect of conviction, and if it is in the public interest to do so. As guaranteed under the Basic Law and the Hong Kong Bill of Rights, defendants charged with criminal offences shall have the right to a fair trial by an independent judiciary. Article 85 of the Basic Law clearly stipulates that the courts of the Hong Kong SAR shall exercise judicial power independently, free from any interference. In all criminal trials, the prosecution has to prove beyond reasonable doubt before the defendant can be convicted, and the defendant has the right to appeal under the law. The statement reiterated that the Hong Kong SAR steadfastly safeguards national sovereignty, security and development interests, and fully and faithfully lives up to this top priority of the principle of “one country, two systems”. It also made it clear that the Hong Kong SAR Government will resolutely, fully and faithfully implement the NSL and further strengthen the Hong Kong SAR’s legal system and enforcement mechanisms for safeguarding national security to prevent, suppress and punish in accordance with the law acts and activities that endanger national security. The statement added that at the same time, the Hong Kong SAR Government will safeguard the rights and freedoms enjoyed by Hong Kong people in accordance with the law. Its overarching goal is to ensure the steadfast and successful implementation of “one country, two systems”.
The special arrangement under the COVID-19 pandemic for Hong Kong non-permanent residents outside the city to apply for an extension of stay will be discontinued on January 1, 2024, the Immigration Department announced today. This means that for the extension of stay applications reaching the department on or after January 1, 2024, the applicants must be physically present in Hong Kong, both at the time of application and the time of collecting the e-Visa for the extension of stay. Due to the pandemic, the department currently allows Hong Kong non-permanent residents who are outside Hong Kong and are unable to return in time to apply for an extension of stay. The special arrangement has been in place since April 8, 2022, and was set to expire on June 30, 2023. Taking into account the resumption of full normalcy in society and the steady recovery of cross-boundary and international travel, the department decided to discontinue the special measure on January 1, 2024. The schedule aims to allow ample time for eligible non-permanent residents who intend to apply for an extension of stay to make suitable arrangements. Under the facilitation measure, eligible non-permanent residents who are admitted into Hong Kong under nine immigration policies or schemes and whose limit of stay is about to expire but are presently outside the city may apply for an extension of stay. For more information, call the department's hotline 2824 6111, or send enquiries via fax at 2877 7711 or by email.
The Government pointed out that the remarks made by an individual regarding the incidents concerning the Shatin to Central Link (SCL) project’s construction quality were fabricated and irresponsible. In an interview with electronic media today, the individual claimed that “the Government is less willing to implicate the MTR Corporation to the turbulence in legal proceedings”. No one should make groundless conclusions or make untrue, unfair and irresponsible remarks, the Government stressed in a press statement. “The law enforcement department must handle every case in a fair, just and impartial manner. Prosecutorial decisions are based on an objective assessment of all admissible evidence and applicable laws, and made strictly in accordance with the Prosecution Code.” As Police are conducting criminal investigations, the Government will not comment on the case at this stage. Remarks hinting that the Government might not further follow up on the project's construction quality were completely unfounded with malicious intent. It has taken multi-faceted actions including establishing the Commission of Inquiry into the Construction Works at & near the Hung Hom Station Extension under the Shatin to Central Link Project, and the Expert Adviser Team as well as conducting an independent audit on the implementation of the recommendations in the commission’s final report. Concurring with the commission and the expert adviser team’s recommendations, the Government has instructed the MTR Corporation to fully follow up and implement the same. These recommendations, apart from being implemented in the SCL project, are also applicable to future new railway projects, it added. Meanwhile, the Buildings Department today responded to comments on the conviction of the contractor for construction works under the SCL for material deviation from the approved plans. The department said that upon completion of investigations into the irregularities in the construction works at the Hung Hom Stabling Sidings under the SCL project, and based on the findings of the investigations and after consulting the Department of Justice, it instigated prosecution action against Leighton Contractors (Asia) for an offence under section 40(2A)(a)(ii) of the Buildings Ordinance in May 2020. Having reviewed the circumstances of the case and relevant evidence, and to maximise the chances of a successful conviction, the Department of Justice amended the charge to an offence under section 40(2A)(b) of the same ordinance this month, with the details and factual basis of the case remaining unchanged. The two offences are of similar gravity and carry the same penalties of a maximum $1 million fine and three years' imprisonment. The two departments are studying the verdict to consider whether an appeal should be lodged.
Police’s National Security Department yesterday arrested a 63-year-old man in Tsim Sha Tsui on suspicion of doing an act or acts with seditious intention in contravention of sections 9 and 10 of the Crimes Ordinance. He is being detained for further enquiries after an investigation revealed that the man was suspected of repeatedly publishing posts with seditious intention on social media platforms. Such posts included content which incited the overthrow of the central authorities, provoked hatred towards the central authorities and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government, advocated Taiwan independence and Hong Kong independence and desecrated the national flag and national anthem. After conducting searches at the arrested man's residence and office with a court warrant, Police seized some electronic communication devices which were used to publish seditious messages. The force reminds the public that doing an act or acts with seditious intention is a serious crime and offenders are liable to two year’s imprisonment on first conviction. Members of the public are urged not to defy the law.
(To watch the full press conference with sign language interpretation, click here.) Chief Executive John Lee announced today that the Chief Executive’s Award for Exemplary Performance goes to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region search and rescue team that was deployed to earthquake-stricken areas in Türkiye in February. Ahead of the Executive Council meeting this morning, Mr Lee said the importance and the purpose of the award is to encourage government teams or civil servants to do their best so as to achieve a level of excellence. “I will use the awardees as an example to tell the civil servants about the things I want them to do. “It is through awarding the actual team whose work will tell the exemplary stories of what I would like to promote and what I would like the civil service to subscribe to and work towards.” The Chief Executive added that the nomination period kicked off in March and the Government was overwhelmed when it received more than 20 nominations for the Chief Executive’s Award for Exemplary Performance.
The Department of Justice (DoJ) and the Supreme Court of Brunei Darussalam facilitated the organisation of an online seminar co-organised by the AALCO Hong Kong Regional Arbitration Centre and the eBRAM International Online Dispute Resolution Centre today. The department explained that this is the first event promoting the talent and professional exchanges between Hong Kong and Brunei Darussalam since the signing of the memorandum of co-operation between the DoJ and the Supreme Court of Brunei Darussalam on May 4. The pact aims to strengthen communication, collaboration and co-operation between the two jurisdictions on issues relating to dispute avoidance and resolution and facilitate development of the related services. During the seminar’s opening, Secretary for Justice Paul Lam said it gives him great pleasure to welcome friends from Brunei joining the online seminar, signifying the first collaboration between the two jurisdictions under the arrangement. He added that he was most grateful to Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Brunei Darussalam Dato Seri Paduka Steven Chong Wan Oon and the Supreme Court of Brunei Darussalam for facilitating the arrangements, which is a great start to building closer ties for practitioners between Brunei and Hong Kong. Apart from pointing out that Brunei Darussalam is an important partner to China's Belt & Road Initiative which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, the department stressed that in the area of legal and dispute resolution services, it will continue to proactively contribute to the initiative, and further the collaboration with the Supreme Court of Brunei Darussalam.
Customs on June 13 detected the largest smuggling case on record involving goods worth about $1.5 billion. An ocean-going vessel was suspected of being used to smuggle goods to the Mainland via Singapore at the Kwai Tsing Container Terminals. A large batch of suspected smuggled goods, including electronic goods, expensive food ingredients, table wines, music records and scheduled endangered species, with a total estimated market value of about $1.5 billion was seized. This is the largest smuggling case detected by Customs on record in terms of the seizure value. Customs earlier discovered that criminals may use ocean-going vessels to smuggle goods to the Mainland via Southeast Asian countries, and therefore formulated strategic plans. Fifteen containers, declared as carrying wood pulp, prepared to be shipped to the Mainland via Singapore by an ocean-going vessel, were identified at the Kwai Tsing Container Terminals. Upon inspection, Customs officers found that the 15 containers were fully packed with wooden boxes. While some of the wooden boxes were used to carry raw paper, most of them were used to conceal suspected smuggled goods. The majority of the boxes contained electronic goods, including integrated circuits, printed circuit boards and capacitors, totalling about 1.1 billion pieces. Other goods included about 25 tonnes of expensive food ingredients, about 20,000 bottles of table wines, about 27,000 pieces of classical music CDs and vinyl records and scheduled endangered species. Apart from arresting a 45-year-old man suspected of being connected with the case, the department detained 15 containers. An investigation is ongoing and the likelihood of further arrests has not been ruled out. People may call 2545 6182 or send an email to the department to report suspected smuggling activities.
Chief Executive John Lee, Chief Justice Andrew Cheung and Secretary for Justice Paul Lam today expressed sorrow over the passing of former Chief Justice and former Executive Council non-official member Yang Ti-liang. On behalf of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government, the Chief Executive extended his deepest condolences to Mr Yang’s family. Mr Yang served as Chief Justice from 1988 to 1996, and was the first Chinese person holding the most senior post in the Judiciary before Hong Kong’s return to the motherland. After the Hong Kong SAR’s establishment, he was appointed as a non-official member of the Executive Council, and was awarded the Grand Bauhinia Medal in 1999. The Chief Executive said: “Mr Yang was a luminary in Hong Kong’s legal community and had made exemplary contributions to upholding the rule of law and to Hong Kong society. “He has all along been committed to the community of Hong Kong and has made dedicated contributions to the development of charitable affairs and higher education. His eminent contributions will be remembered.” Mr Cheung supplemented: “Mr Yang made tremendous contributions to upholding the rule of law and judicial independence in Hong Kong. A great jurist of his time, he led the Judiciary with dedication and vision, particularly in its localisation in preparation for Hong Kong’s return to the motherland. “His legacy as head of the Judiciary is rich and substantial, and he will be remembered with great respect and affection.” Receiving the news with great sorrow, the Secretary for Justice noted that Mr Yang had offered 40 years of service to the Judiciary with outstanding achievements, making profound contributions to the judicial sector, adding that he would be dearly missed by the legal sector and society.
The Department of Justice's Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA) Task Force, chaired by Deputy Secretary for Justice Cheung Kwok-kwan, held its second meeting today to examine recommendations and implement its future work plan. During the meeting, the task force discussed and agreed to take forward a number of specific recommendations. The key ones include the establishment of an information platform to facilitate the easy access by the people and businesses to information on legal and dispute resolution services in the GBA and other related areas; and the setting up of a high-level platform to facilitate the conduct of regular exchanges and research on mutual legal assistance in civil and commercial matters, etc. Apart from actively seeking the expansion to Mainland cities in the GBA the measures for Hong Kong-invested enterprises to choose Hong Kong law as applicable law and to choose Hong Kong as the seat of arbitration, other recommendations involve enhancing the promotion of the measures' advantages and benefits for the development and construction of the bay area. The task force also suggested the enhancement of the existing arrangements for mutual legal assistance in civil and commercial matters, as well as the establishment of a mediator panel for the GBA and the setting up of an online mediation platform for use in the bay area. Mr Cheung pointed out that the GBA is the only place in the world that enjoys the unique advantages of “one country, two systems and three jurisdictions”, and that Hong Kong's common law system and its rule of law are widely acclaimed by international communities. He noted that enhancing the interface of the legal systems and mutual legal assistance in civil and commercial matters in the GBA not only facilitates interactions among the people and businesses, but also provides strong legal support for the advancement of the bay area's high-quality development. He emphasised that the Department of Justice will proactively follow up on the task force's recommendations and work closely together with the relevant Mainland authorities and stakeholders of the legal and other sectors, so as to take forward and implement the relevant work.