Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Email this article
LCQ16: Police respect press freedom and the media's right of reporting

     Following is a written reply by the Secretary for Security, Mr Ambrose S K Lee, to a question by the Hon Emily Lau in the Legislative Council today (May 2):


     In recent years, many members of the public have staged demonstrations outside the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (LOCPG).  Some media has pointed out that the Police impose numerous restrictions on their covering these demonstrations, and this has drawn public criticism on the authorities for suppressing freedom of the press.  It has been reported that the Police's controls over the media covering a number of demonstrations and petitions outside LOCPG in April this year, including ordering reporters to stay far away from the front gate of LOCPG for covering news, surrounding reporters who are staying outside the press area with mills barriers, and allowing only the four television stations to stay in the press area outside the planter at the front gate for covering news, had aroused strong dissatisfaction among the media, which lodged complaints with the Independent Police Complaints Council.  In this connection, will the Executive Authorities inform this Council:

(a) given that the existence of a large planter outside LOCPG has reduced the width of the footpath from nine metres to three metres, which is below the minimum width standard of 4.5 metres for through zones of the land uses of "government, institution or community facilities" as recommended in the Transport Planning and Design Manual, and the Police occupy much space for setting up action area and putting up a large number of mills barriers, leaving the space outside LOCPG available for demonstrations and news coverage extremely limited, and it has been learnt that the Police do not give permission for demonstrations and news coverage to take place outside LOCPG on grounds of the cramped environment, whether the Executive Authorities constructed the planter in the public area outside LOCPG at the request of LOCPG; whether the authorities will reconsider removing the planter to expand the space for covering news and demonstrations; if not, of the reasons for that;

(b) of the reason why members of the public are allowed to pass the front gate of LOCPG freely but reporters are confined to the press area when demonstrations take place; the criteria based on which the Police decide that it is necessary to designate press areas; if it is based on the number of participants of the demonstrations and safety concerns, of the reason for the Police to designate a press area even when, as pointed out by the media, only 10 odd members of the public were taking part in a peaceful demonstration; and

(c) whether the Police have assessed if the criteria for dealing with demonstrations and the media covering news outside LOCPG are more stringent; whether the Police had received or taken the initiative to consult LOCPG on its views before dealing with the demonstrations in April; whether the authorities have assessed if the approach of the Police in dealing with the media covering news last year had a tendency to tighten the room for covering news?



(a) According to the information provided by the Transport and Housing Bureau, the Government proposed in 2002 to carry out traffic improvement works on Connaught Road West to improve the road and traffic condition thereat.  The proposed works included relocating the exit of a layby previously located at the section of Connaught Road West between Western Street and Water Street to a position that would provide a better driving sightline, away from the stairs of the Western Street footbridge.  The proposed works would improve the undesirable situation that vehicles had to weave in and out of Connaught Road West with poor driving sightline.  The construction of the planter at the relevant section of Connaught Road West was part of the works project and was meant for appropriate beautification of the road section concerned.  The width of the footway is three meters after the road improvement works, which is in line with the width of the road section of Connaught Road West to which it is connected, i.e. both road sections are three meters wide.

     According to the information provided by the Transport Department, the actual pedestrian flow of the section of the footway in question during the busiest hours in the morning is eight persons per minute on average.  According to the Transport Planning and Design Manual, if the pedestrian flow at a footway is less than 60 persons per minute, the minimum width of the footway should be two metres.  As such, with a width of three metres at present, the section of the footway conforms to the transport planning and design standards.  The Administration considers that there is no need to carry out any alteration works at that section of the footway.

(b) The Police respect press freedom and the media's right of reporting, and recognise the importance of facilitating media coverage and maintaining effective communication with them.  The Police also implement measures to facilitate media coverage as far as practicable.  In handling public order events, the Police will, having taken into account the specific situations and various factors concerned, such as the geographical constraints of the venue concerned, the nature and content of the event, the anticipated number of participants and the actual situation of the demonstration, as well as balancing the impact on local residents, traffic conditions and road users, consider setting up designated public activity areas (DPAAs) and designated press areas (DPAs), with a view to facilitating the conduct of public order events and media coverage and ensuring public safety and public order.  If the demonstration is staged in a crowded place or if it is assessed that the demonstrators may resort to more radical means to express their aspirations, setting up of DPAs would enhance the safety of media workers and help reduce the risks involved with the movement of large video recording equipment.  The relevant arrangement is intended to strike a balance between maintaining public order and meeting the needs of the media.  It is hoped that the media would on the basis of mutual respect and understanding, consider the arrangements made by the Police in support of mutual co-operation.

(c) Hong Kong residents have the rights and freedom of speech which are protected under the Basic Law and the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance.  The Police always handle public meetings and processions in a fair, just and impartial manner in accordance with the laws of Hong Kong.  The operational policy of the Police is to endeavour to strike a balance by facilitating all lawful and peaceful public meetings and processions on one hand and, on the other, reducing the impact of such meetings and processions on other members of the public or road users and to ensure public order and public safety.  Generally speaking, upon receipt of a notification of a public meeting, the Police will contact the event organisers as early as possible and maintain close communication with them to understand their needs and aspirations and to provide advice and assistance on crowd management.  In handling public order events outside the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (LOCPG), the Police always strictly follow the above-mentioned principle and render assistance in such public order events so that they can be conducted in a peaceful and orderly manner.  As such public order events are held in public places, the Police do not need to consult the LOCPG, local groups or the shops nearby.

     The Police respect press freedom and the media's right of reporting, and maintain a co-operative relationship with the media on the basis of mutual respect and understanding.  The Police will endeavour to provide assistance to facilitate the media in their reporting work.

Ends/Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Issued at HKT 15:30


Print this page