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LCQ9: Participants of public meetings, processions and demonstrations should observe the law

     Following is a written reply by the Secretary for Security, Mr Lai Tung-kwok, to a question by Hon Wong Ting-kwong in the Legislative Council today (June 4):


     Some people have initiated the Occupy Central movement, and one of the actions of which is to gather more than 10 000 people to block the roads in Central this year (Occupy Central), with the intent to force the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government and the Central Authorities to accept the proposal for the selection of the Chief Executive by universal suffrage approved of by these people.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) whether the Police have, in response to the recent discussions on constitutional development and the social atmosphere, conducted a new round of assessment of Occupy Central; if they have assessed, of the outcome, including the police manpower needed to be deployed for Occupy Central, the impacts of the deployment on the police manpower of other police districts, as well as the impacts of Occupy Central on the traffic and the economy, etc.; if they have not, the reasons for that;

(2) as it has been reported that the Police recently issued an internal circular requiring all police officers to cancel their leave during the period from June 22 to July 5 this year and make themselves ready for deployment when necessary, whether this arrangement is one of the plans that the authorities have worked out in preparation for Occupy Central; if so, of the specific arrangements of the plan; and

(3) as it has been reported that some organisations have indicated that they may occupy or encircle some landmark locations in Hong Kong, including the Legislative Council Complex, the Central Government Offices, and the building of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, of the corresponding measures the authorities will adopt, including how they will work in coordination with the personnel responsible for the management of such locations?



     Hong Kong residents enjoy the rights of assembly, procession and demonstration according to the law.  The Police always handle public meetings, demonstrations and processions in a fair, just and impartial manner in accordance with the law.  The enforcement policy of the Police is to endeavour to strike a balance by facilitating all lawful and peaceful public meetings, demonstrations and processions 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.

     In consultation with the relevant bureaux, the consolidated reply to the Member's question is as follows:

(1) and (2) The Administration is very concerned about the "Occupy Central" movement initiated by some members of the community.  According to reports, some members of the community hope to rally a large number of people to occupy and obstruct trunk roads in Central as a means to express their aspirations.  We understand that there are concerns from quite a number of organisations and individuals over the impact of the "Occupy Central" movement on the community, including possible disruption of social order, damage to the local economy and the business environment, undermining of Hong Kong's competitiveness and, consequently, withdrawal of business by the multinational corporations.

     As far as traffic is concerned, in view of the hectic road traffic on the Hong Kong Island, particularly in the areas around Central, any obstructions that occur on the roads may critically impede the traffic nearby and affect the major trunk roads and other accesses connecting to the district.  Currently, the eastbound and westbound of Connaught Road Central and Harcourt Road are the major roads in the Central Business District.  Based on experience, minor traffic accidents or incidents occurring on the major roads or in its vicinity often result in congestion on the road network.  Any traffic blockages around Central will quickly give rise to severe impact on other districts and major roads.  In addition to Central, Sheung Wan, Wan Chai, Causeway Bay and Happy Valley would experience acute congestion, and other major trunk roads including Connaught Road, Gloucester Road, the Island Eastern Corridor, the Cross-Harbour Tunnel at Hung Hom and the Western Harbour Crossing would be gravely affected.  The congestion may be extended to Kowloon.

     As regards the economy, based on information provided by the Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau, financial regulators, Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited/clearing houses, and individual financial institutions have put in place contingency plans, with a view to coping with various situations which may affect the normal operation of business.  This is to ensure that when an emergency arises, the relevant organisations will be able to adopt appropriate contingency measures, so as to reduce any impact on the operation of their core businesses.  Notwithstanding the above, since Central is the core business district of Hong Kong where most of the major financial institutions, infrastructure and regulators are located, any large-scale road blockage action in the district may inevitably affect Hong Kong's financial and related activities.  It will also disrupt relevant services used by members of the public.  If the situation persists such that the Central Business District could not operate in a normal manner for a prolonged period, notwithstanding that the relevant institutions would have put in place contingency measures, the chain reaction caused by and derived from occupation and blockage of trunk roads in Central will bound to have an impact on the financial business.

     Similar to handling other large-scale public activities, the Police shall conduct risk assessments on various aspects of the event in question and formulate plans, as a means to devise corresponding deployment and contingency measures.  The Police shall, in accordance with their deployment arrangements, take decisive actions in the light of the prevailing circumstances.  Given the confidential nature of the Police operational deployment, the Administration will not disclose its details.

(3) We have to reiterate that when expressing their views, participants of public meetings, demonstrations or processions should observe the laws of Hong Kong and conduct such activities in a peaceful and orderly manner.  Members of the public shall not engage in any behaviour to the detriment of public safety and public order.  The Hong Kong Police Force is a professional law enforcement agency and it shall decisively take corresponding measures against any contravention of the law, breach of the peace or public order, so as to ensure that public safety and public order are not to be jeopardised.

     The Police are capable of and experienced in handling large-scale demonstrations, processions and meetings. With comprehensive strategies in manpower resources management, front-line police services will not be compromised despite individual incidents or events.  At this stage, the Police shall keep a close watch on the development of such an event, and make appropriate deployments and rearrangements.  Any person who wishes to organise any public order event shall notify the Police and provide details in accordance with the relevant law.

     It is against the law to paralyse the traffic and block road accesses, which will seriously jeopardise public safety and public order, and will also affect the daily life and business operations of other members of the public, and will even severely hamper emergency services.  Participants shall carefully consider the adverse impact of the event on public safety and public order, as well as the legal responsibilities that it may entail.

Ends/Wednesday, June 4, 2014
Issued at HKT 16:25


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