LCQ1: Security of the Legislative Council and arrangements of the Police

     Following is a question by the Hon Jeffrey Lam and a reply by the Secretary for Security, Mr Lai Tung-kwok, in the Legislative Council today (June 10):


     This Council will debate and vote on the proposals on the method for selecting the Chief Executive in 2017 (the constitutional reform proposals) later this month. It has been reported that the convenor of the Civil Human Rights Front has indicated that it plans to mobilise 100 000 people to besiege the Legislative Council Complex (the Complex) before the voting on the constitutional reform proposals, so as to exert pressure on the Members of this Council. The representatives of some student bodies have also indicated that if the constitutional reform proposals are passed, they may take radical actions, including storming the Complex with hard objects and occupying the Complex. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) whether the Police have assessed the possible risks of the public safety outside the Complex under threat and disruption of the public order, and made corresponding deployment;

(2) in the light of the possible siege and storming of the Complex, of the measures (including aspects such as the police manpower and traffic arrangements at the scene, etc.) the Police will take to uphold the law and maintain public order; and

(3) whether the Police have discussed with the Legislative Council Secretariat ways to prevent protesters from storming and entering the Complex causing disturbances, so as to ensure that this Council can vote on the constitutional reform proposals without interference, and the Members and staff of this Council can safely enter and leave the Complex during the period concerned?



     With the Government's announcement of submitting constitutional development proposals to the Legislative Council (LegCo) for scrutiny on June 17 (i.e. next Wednesday), the community is highly concerned about whether another round of illegal "Occupy Movement" would be triggered, or whether members of the public would once again be panic-stricken in the event of social order disruption. In this connection, I would like to thank the Hon Jeffrey Lam for his question so that I may expound a few points on situation that might happen next week. I shall give a consolidated reply to the Hon Lam's question.

Unlawful assembly and violent charging are all illegal acts

     Under the Basic Law, Hong Kong residents enjoy the freedom and rights of speech, of assembly, of procession and of demonstration.  The HKSAR Government has repeatedly reiterated that participants of public order events should remain law-abiding, peaceful and orderly when expressing their views and should refrain from any illegal acts that are detrimental to public order or involve violent charging etc. It is the established policy of the Police to strike a proper balance between various aspects, including facilitating the smooth conduct of lawful and peaceful public order events, minimising the impact of such events on members of the public and road users, as well as ensuring public safety and maintaining public order etc.

     I truly believe that the illegal "Occupy Movement" and various incidents of violent charging of the LegCo in the past have clearly conveyed a message: That the community does not agree with protesters committing any illegal acts in the course of expression of views. In the past, there are people who were convicted by the court in relation to incidents of violent charging of the LegCo and are left with life-long criminal records. Such offences include taking part in unlawful assembly, assault on LegCo officers in execution of duties, attempted forcible entry and access to computer with criminal intent etc. I emphasise that unlawful assembly, violent charging and defying the spirit of the rule of law are definitely not what Hong Kong residents would like to see and accept. The Police will not tolerate these acts, and will definitely take resolute actions against any illegal acts and stringently enforce the law.

Security of the LegCo and delineation of duties between the LegCo and the Police

     President, as far as LegCo's security is concerned, there has all along been a clear delineation of duties and an established communications mechanism between the LegCo Secretariat and the Police.  Security within the LegCo precincts falls within the LegCo Commission's purview and is executed by the LegCo Secretariat. In view of the spate of charging incidents in the past, security of the LegCo has already been stepped up. In January this year, the LegCo Commission amended the guidelines for staging petitions or demonstrations at designated demonstration areas of the LegCo Complex. In April, the Commission also implemented a series of measures for enhancing the Complex's security.

     Due to LegCo's constitutional role, the area administered by the LegCo is different from other general public places. According to my understanding, the LegCo has already formulated measures to manage protest activities at the designated demonstration areas of the LegCo Complex and at the LegCo Square. Police officers do not arbitrarily enter the precincts of the LegCo Complex. Generally speaking, it is only upon receipt of the LegCo Secretariat's requests for assistance in handling incidents relating to public safety, public order or law and order, or upon receipt of reports, shall the Police, after liaising with the Secretariat, enter the LegCo to render assistance.

     On another front, the Police have been paying close attention to the fact that certain groups are planning to call on a large number of members of the public to surround the LegCo and stage protests while the LegCo will be scrutinising the constitutional development proposals. The Police have already been maintaining close communications with the LegCo Secretariat with respect to how to assist the Secretariat in promptly responding to any possible serious security situations or emergency incidents, particularly on making preparations for any radical or violent acts. To maintain public order and protect the safety of LegCo Members, LegCo personnel and the public, the Police will render assistance at all times at the request of the LegCo Secretariat.

Other arrangements of the Police

     Given that the protests may also take place at public places outside the area administered by the LegCo, including nearby streets and parks and even in other districts, the Police have already conducted a holistic risk assessment based on past experience as well as in the light of the latest situation and will update it from time to time for manpower deployment and formulation of operational plans and contingencies. The Police have strengthened officer training in order to enhance response capabilities of police officers. The Police will also deploy sufficient manpower to cope with any emergencies. In case of unlawful acts, the Police will spare no efforts in pursuing the criminal responsibility of law-breakers. As Police's concrete plans involve operational deployment details, it is not appropriate for me to disclose such information here.


      President, the right and freedom to expression must only be exercised by legal means and on the premise that no disturbance or harm to others is caused. I call on members of the public not to take part in any unlawful assemblies or violent activities. Nor should they incite or instigate others to join such activities. In case of violent acts such as charging, members of the public should immediately leave the scene, maintain a distance with radical protesters, and allow sufficient space for the Police to immediately proceed to relevant positions for handling. Members of the public who seek to express their opinions by way of protest, assembly, procession etc. have to give prior notice to the Police in accordance with the law and abide by conditions imposed by the Police in respect of these activities. In addition, such activities may only be conducted if the Commissioner of Police does not prohibit or object to.

     Crowd events are susceptible to unpredictable changes and may even be "hijacked" by instigators, evolving into uncontrollable violent confrontations. As Secretary for Security, I have to remind the public to be aware of, at all times, the legality of such events and the problems that may entail, such as personal safety and legal responsibilities etc. I also have to make it clear that the Police will, under all circumstances, resolutely uphold law and order, as well as protect the safety of members of the public and social order.

     Thank you, President.

Ends/Wednesday, June 10, 2015
Issued at HKT 15:09