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LCQ17: Registration of organisations

     Following is a written reply by the Secretary for Security, Mr Lai Tung-kwok, to a question by the Hon Claudia Mo in the Legislative Council today (July 10):


     It has been reported that two organisations, namely "Caring Hong Kong Power" and "Voice of Loving Hong Kong", have not been registered under the Companies Ordinance (Cap. 32) or the Societies Ordinance (Cap. 151), and they have openly collected donations from the public and organised activities.  Regarding regulation of organisations which have not been registered or exempted from registration under the law, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) whether it has investigated (i) if the aforesaid organisations have contravened the Societies Ordinance, and (ii) how such organisations manage the funds raised; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that, and whether it will take follow-up actions;

(b) of the number of new societies registered or exempted from registration under the Societies Ordinance (with a breakdown by the objects for which they were formed) and the number of new companies registered under the Companies Ordinance in the past three years;

(c) of the number of prosecutions instituted in the past three years against local organisations not registered under the law for illegal collection of donations and the penalties imposed by the court on the convicted persons in the past three years;

(d) of the details of the current policies and measures regarding regulation of the fundraising activities carried out by organisations not registered under the law; and

(e) whether there are policies and measures in place for regulating the meetings and other open activities held by organisations not registered under the law; if there are, of the details, including which party should be held legally liable in the event that some participants are injured, lose their properties or even die in the course of such activities; if not, whether it will consider introducing relevant measures?



     In Hong Kong, all organisations including companies, societies, trade unions and credit unions must be registered by authorities under applicable ordinances such as the Companies Ordinance (Cap. 32) and the Societies Ordinance (Cap. 151).

     Member's question is related to the programme areas of other bureaux and departments.  In consultation with the relevant bureaux and departments, the consolidated reply is as follows:

(a), (c) & (d) The Societies Ordinance does not regulate the general activities of registered societies, including fund-raising activities.

     The regulation of fund-raising activities straddles the programme areas of a number of government bureaux and departments.  They have put in place various regulatory and administrative measures.  At present, the Director of Social Welfare may issue Public Subscription Permits (PSPs) under Summary Offences Ordinance (Cap. 228) for any collection of money or sale or exchange for donation of badges, tokens or similar articles for charitable purposes in public places.  The Secretary for Home Affairs (SHA) may also issue permits under the above Ordinance for public fund-raising activities for other purposes, while public officer appointed by the SHA is empowered by the Gambling Ordinance (Cap. 148) and the Gambling Regulations (Cap. 148A) to grant lottery licences.  For the sale of goods in public places for raising funds, temporary hawker licences may be issued by the Director of Food and Environmental Hygiene under the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (Cap. 132).

     The Police will take appropriate follow-up actions upon receipt of complaints on suspected unauthorised fund-raising activities.  From 2010 to 2012, one person was prosecuted for collecting money in a public place without lawful authority or excuse and was sentenced to a fine of $500.

     The Administration will not comment on individual organisations or cases.

(b) From 2010 to 2012, the number of new societies registered or exempted from registration under the Societies Ordinance is listed in the table below.  On the other hand, if a non-commercial entity is to be incorporated, it will typically be registered as a company limited by guarantee under the Companies Ordinance.  The number of such companies is also listed in the table below:

         Number of new           Number of new
         societies               companies limited
         registered or           by guarantee
         exempted from           incorporated and
         registration under      registered under
         the Societies           the Companies
         Ordinance               Ordinance
         -----------------       ----------------
2010          2 718                    860

2011          2 923                    753

2012          2 824                    690

     The Police do not maintain statistics on new societies registered or exempted from registration under the Societies Ordinance by their objects.

(e) Hong Kong residents enjoy the rights of assembly, procession and demonstration according to the Basic Law and other relevant laws.  The Police always handle public meetings, processions and demonstrations in a fair, just and impartial manner in accordance with the laws of Hong Kong.  The enforcement policy of the Police is to endeavour to strike a balance by facilitating all lawful and peaceful public meetings, processions and demonstrations on the one hand, and on the other hand, reducing the impact of such activities on other members of the public or road users, and ensuring public order and public safety.

     If there are plans to organise public meetings or processions with the number of attendance exceeding the limit prescribed in the Public Order Ordinance (i.e. public meetings of more than 50 persons and public processions of more than 30 persons), organisers of such events must abide by the requirements of the above Ordinance by giving a notice to the Commissioner of Police (CP) not less than seven days prior to the intended event, and it can only be conducted if the CP does not prohibit or object to it.  The notice shall cover such basic information as the date of the public meeting or procession, time of commencement and duration, location or route, subject-matter, as well as the estimated number of participants, etc.  The CP may impose condition(s) on a notified public meeting or procession to ensure order of the event and overall public safety, and the corresponding condition(s) imposed will be stated explicitly in the "letter of no objection" issued to the organisers.  Organisers may appeal to the statutory and independent Appeal Board on Public Meetings and Processions if they consider the CP's decision unreasonable.

     Generally speaking, upon receipt of notifications of public meetings or processions, the Police will take a proactive approach in maintaining close communication with the event organisers to offer advice and assistance.  The Police will make reference to the number of participants and information provided by organisers, past experience in handling similar events as well as other operational considerations when assessing the management measures required for the crowd, traffic and public transport services and manpower deployment, with a view to maintaining public safety and public order during the events.

     Organisers of public order events also have the responsibility to ensure as far as possible the orderly and safe conduct of such events, such as arranging marshals to assist in liaison and maintenance of order, as well as working closely with the Police in their work of maintaining public order.

Ends/Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Issued at HKT 15:00


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