The following is the opening remark by the acting SITB, Ms Eva Cheng, at the press conference announcing the publication of the 2000 Review of the Control of Obscene and Indecent Articles Ordinance today (April 19):
Thank you for attending today's press conference on our policy proposals arising from a review of the Control of Obscene and Indecent Articles Ordinance. Our main concern is to protect our young people from the harmful effects of obscene and indecent publications.
The Ordinance establishes a regulatory framework to prohibit the publication of obscene articles and restrict the publication of articles containing indecent materials to adults. The objective is to protect young people from being exposed to materials harmful to them. To ensure that the regulatory regime under the Ordinance continues to reflect the expectations of the community, we need to conduct regular reviews of the Ordinance.
Following a comprehensive review of the Ordinance in the past year, we have drawn up a set of policy proposals with a view to improving the operation and effectiveness of the Ordinance. The consultation paper containing the policy proposals is now published for public consultation.
Before I outline the proposals in the consultation paper, let me make clear a number of fundamental considerations. Hong Kong is a free and open society. Free flow of information is at the very heart of our institutions. We respect the right of access to information and freedom of expression. Indeed, these are the basic freedoms guaranteed under the Basic Law. There should be no undue restrictions on what adults in a free society should be able to see, hear and read. However, children and young people, being impressionable and vulnerable, need particular protection during their development. Therefore, in drawing up the policy proposals, we have highlighted the importance of striking a balance between protecting public morals and our young people on the one hand and preserving the free flow of information and safeguarding the free of expression on the other. It is extremely important that the public provides us with views to help us arrive at that balance.
I would also like to emphasise that journalistic ethics, professional standards and editorial decisions in news reporting are outside the scope of the Ordinance and are not covered in this consultation paper.
The public will be given two months, until 19 June, to comment on the proposals in the consultation paper. We will consider carefully all views received before finalising the policy proposals.
END/Wednesday, April 19, 2000