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LCQ20: Illegal occupation of public place
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     Following is a question by the Hon Chan Hak-kan and a written reply by the Secretary for Security, Mr Lai Tung-kwok, in the Legislative Council today (June 3):

Question:

     Some members of the public have relayed to me that since the end of the occupation movement late last year, some people have erected unauthorised structures, such as tents, wooden sheds, etc., on the pavements outside the Legislative Council Complex and Central Government Offices.  Moreover, the number of such structures is on the increase.  They have pointed out that this situation will pose problems to the law and order as well as environmental hygiene.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the respective numbers of reports and complaints about the aforesaid structures received by the Police from members of the public since December last year, and the nature of such complaints;

(2) whether it has assessed the problems of the law and order as well as environmental hygiene posed by these structures; if it has, of the assessment findings; and

(3) of the reasons why the authorities have not yet cleared these structures; of the legislation based on which the authorities may clear these structures at present; whether there are plans to clear these structures; if there are such plans, of the details?

Reply:

President,

     With respect to the Hon Chan Hak-kan's concern over the law and order and environmental hygiene issues caused by the allegedly illegal erection of tents and placement of objects by certain members of the public on the pavements of Tim Mei Avenue and Harcourt Road outside the Legislative Council Complex (LCC) and Central Government Offices (CGO), the Government's reply is as follows:

(1) and (2) From December 15 last year to May 31 this year, the Police have received over 30 reports involving obstruction caused by the tents, erected structures and other objects on the aforesaid pavements.  In respect of law and order, in the same period, a total of four persons concerning three cases were arrested by the Police on the pavements of Tim Mei Avenue and Harcourt Road for suspected common assault and criminal damage.  The Police will continue to closely monitor the situation of the aforementioned pavements, maintain law and order, and combat illegal acts.

     In the same period, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) has received 11 complaints on environmental hygiene pertaining to tent erection, odour emission and pest problems on the pavements of Tim Mei Avenue and Harcourt Road.  While daily sweeping and refuse collection as well as regular pest control are being conducted on the aforesaid pavements, the FEHD has been unable to carry out routine street-cleansing as usual since last December due to the illegal occupation of certain pavement sections of Tim Mei Avenue and Harcourt Road.

(3) The HKSAR Government respects the public in expressing their views in a lawful and peaceful manner.  The Government, at the same time, also has the responsibility to safeguard the publicíŽs right of using the roads, as well as to ensure public safety, public order and public health.

     The pavements of Tim Mei Avenue and Harcourt Road are a public place and a main access to the CGO and LCC.  While expressing their views, members of the public should respect othersíŽ right to use these roads and should not illegally occupy public place by means of tents, erected structures or other objects.

     From the perspective of law and order, given that most of the tents on the aforesaid pavements are enclosed and that a few of them are indeed very large, it is difficult for passers-by to see from the outside what articles are stored inside the tents, or whether such articles are dangerous, offensive or illegal, and whether any person is lurking inside the tents for any criminal act, thereby causing concern amongst passers-by over their own personal safety.  At the same time, some members of the community have already expressed dissatisfaction over the acts of illegally occupying the pavements of Tim Mei Avenue and Harcourt Road.  Large-scale illegal occupation of pavements will heighten the risk of confrontation between people of different views at these locations.  Besides, a section of the pavement on Tim Mei Avenue outside the CGO is a designated public activity area.  Members of the public and the media often have to stand on vehicular access in order to stage demonstrations or cover news as the pavement is occupied by the tents, hence exposing themselves to danger.  The above-mentioned various factors will create risks in respect of law and order on relevant pavements.

     On environmental hygiene, given that the pavements of Tim Mei Avenue and Harcourt Road outside the LCC and CGO have not been thoroughly cleansed for about half a year, coupled with the hot and humid summer of Hong Kong, the tents, erected structures and other objects currently occupying these pavements may trigger environmental hygiene problems such as mosquito and pest breeding as well as odour emission etc.

     The HKSAR Government urges the protesters to remove the tents, erected structures and other objects from the pavements of Tim Mei Avenue and Harcourt Road outside the CGO and LCC, so that members of the public can use these pavements in the normal way.  Relevant government departments will continue to closely monitor the situation of the aforesaid pavements, examine necessary follow-up measures and take appropriate law enforcement actions at an appropriate time.  It is not appropriate to reveal details at this stage.

Ends/Wednesday, June 3, 2015
Issued at HKT 13:27

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