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LCQ18: Preventive measures and contingency plans dealing with natural disasters or attacks
     Following is a question by the Hon Chan Hak-kan and a written reply by the Secretary for Security, Mr John Lee, in the Legislative Council today (October 18):


     Whenever a storm hits Hong Kong, there are some members of the public who, disregarding their own safety, take photographs along the seashore, swim at sea or go hiking. In February this year, during an arson incident on a train in the MTR Tsim Sha Tsui Station, quite a number of passengers on the platform had neither assisted in extinguishing the fire and saving life nor expeditiously left the scene which was full of smoke. Instead, they are preoccupied with using their mobile phones to take photos. There have been comments that the aforesaid situations are reflective of a lack of safety awareness among some members of the public. With regard to enhancing the capability of various parties to deal with emergency incidents, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) as there have been criticisms that there are inadequate fire extinguishers made available on the platforms in the MTR Tsim Sha Tsui Station for members of the public to access instantly, and that the directional signs indicating the escape routes are not clear, whether the authorities will request the MTR Corporation Limited (MTRCL) to make improvement in this regard and step up broadcasting announcements or promotional videos inside MTR stations to convey safety messages to passengers, so as to enable them to know what to do in an emergency incident;

(2) as terrorist attacks have occurred one after another in the railway systems of London, Brussels and Saint Petersburg this year, whether the relevant government departments conduct joint counter-terrorism exercises with MTRCL on a regular basis; whether inspections have been carried out to check if all MTR stations are currently equipped with the necessary disaster-prevention and counter-terrorism devices; if so, of the details;

(3) whether various government departments responsible for carrying out emergency rescues conduct scheduled and unscheduled exercises and formulated contingency measures to deal with various types of natural disasters and attacks, with a view to ensuring the safety of various public places; if so, of the details; and

(4) whether the authorities will step up their public education and publicity efforts (such as publishing various types of survival guides for emergency situations) to enhance public awareness of the need to avoid various sorts of dangers, such as paying constant attention to their own safety in crowded places, and being aware of the escape routes in preparation for any contingency?



     The Government attaches great importance to the safety of the citizens.  It has formulated preventive measures and contingency plans to deal with all types of natural disasters or attacks. It regularly reviews equipment and training of the relevant departments. It also conducts inter-departmental and inter-organisational exercises to ensure all relevant departments and organisations are fully prepared. The Government also enhances the citizens' awareness by publicity and public education.  

     In consultation with the Transport and Housing Bureau and relevant departments, I reply to the various parts of the question as follows:

(1) and (2) At present, all fire services equipment in MTR stations and train compartments meets the requirements under the Fire Services Ordinance. For instance, train compartments are constructed with fire retardant materials and equipped with safety devices including fire extinguishers, ventilation windows, emergency telecommunication system for contact with train captains, broadcasting systems and emergency exits. All these facilities are provided with clear instructions which undergo regular inspections and maintenance to ensure proper operation.

     In response to the arson incident occurred in an MTR train on February 10, 2017 (the arson incident), the MTR Corporation Limited (MTRCL) conducted a comprehensive review of its incident handling and emergency response and submitted a review report to the Government on April 25, 2017. MTRCL implemented a number of follow-up measures to raise public awareness and strengthen risk management, which include enhancing public education on safety by broadcasting rail safety videos and displaying posters to raise fire safety awareness in stations and train compartments, as well as disseminating more fire safety information on its website and Facebook. Besides, MTRCL has been gradually putting up prominent signs for fire extinguishers in MTR stations and providing station assistants with training on the use of fire extinguishers. A training course on fire safety and prevention co-organised by MTRCL and the Fire Services Department (FSD) for station staff was completed this April. MTRCL will continue its efforts in implementing the measures and recommendations in the above-mentioned report to maintain the safety standards of rail network and enhance risk management.

     The Hong Kong Police Force (HKPF) and FSD, which maintain close co-operation and liaison with the MTRCL, have made risk assessments and formulated action plans for all MTR stations. Moreover, HKPF and FSD conduct regular exercises simulating emergency scenarios in major incidents and terrorist attacks on the railway system to practise, test and enhance various contingency plans for the purpose of strengthening the security and response capability of the system. A total of 15 joint exercises are to be held this year.  Regular training is provided for MTR frontline staff to ensure their preparedness for possible emergency situations.

     After the arson incident, HKPF made arrangements to enhance public safety and order, as well as maintain the public's confidence. In addition to the Railway District, the Counter Terrorism Response Unit and the Police Dog Unit, the five land regional Emergency Units and the Police Tactical Unit have already stepped up patrol in MTR stations. Besides, MTRCL has deployed additional staff for patrols.

(3) HKPF and FSD conduct regular inter-departmental and multi-agency training and exercises for major incidents and terrorist attacks to practise, test and enhance the co-ordination between relevant emergency services, thereby ensuring their preparedness for all kinds of possible emergency situations. Besides, HKPF, FSD, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD), and organisations like MTRCL and the Airport Authority Hong Kong also conduct exercises on counter-terrorism and emergency response on different premises, including public performance venues, MTR stations and the Hong Kong International Airport, to boost the response and coordination capabilities of relevant organisations and their frontline staff. During the past five years (2012 to 2016), HKPF conducted a total of 259 relevant exercises. 

     The Critical Infrastructure Security Coordination Centre (CISCC) under HKPF maintains close liaison and collaboration with all stakeholders. CISCC strengthens self-protection and self-restoration capabilities of critical infrastructures through public-private co-operation, risk management, on-site security inspections, promotion of recovery plans and the "security-by-design" concept, etc. Where necessary, HKPF will deploy counter-terrorism units and resources according to different threat levels, with a view to strengthening protection for these infrastructures. 

     In view of the rapid development of the global counter-terrorism situation and potential threat posed by terrorism to Hong Kong, the Government will establish a dedicated Inter-departmental Counter-Terrorism Unit comprising relevant law enforcement agencies. The unit will monitor the global terrorism trends and regimes on countering terrorism, review and improve counter-terrorism strategies, and formulate measures and action plan in collaboration with relevant departments.

(4) Public education is a key element to the prevention of disasters. The Security Bureau, HKPF and FSD promote, from time to time, safety knowledge and anti-crime awareness through their websites and social media. For instance, in May 2017, HKPF and FSD jointly produced a three-episode video named "Keep calm and stay safe during emergency situation", and released it through their social media to inform the public of contingency measures to be taken in case of fire or major accidents in a public place. 
     Recently, HKPF has also provided safety advice to the public through the media, reminding members of the public to keep calm in the event of an armed attack, and take the three steps of "run, hide, report" in light of the actual situation to ensure personal safety. The CISCC, Cyber Security Centre and Counter Terrorism Response Unit under HKPF also maintain close liaison with relevant public and private organisations and stakeholders in enhancing the counter-terrorism response awareness and capabilities of these organisations and the public through daily contact, security talks, security advice, joint counter-terrorism exercises, etc. 

     Furthermore, FSD from time to time reminds the public of the points to note for mountaineering activities. It has also launched the Fire Safety Ambassador Scheme and the Building Fire Safety Envoy Scheme which cover such aspects as understanding fire risks, actions to be taken and means of escape during fire, with a view to enhancing the public's fire safety awareness. FSD organises fire safety courses and talks in collaboration with other public transport operators from time to time to train their staff to be Fire Safety Ambassadors, Fire Safety Ambassador Trainers and Building Fire Safety Envoys, so as to strengthen these organisations' ability to cope with fire or unexpected incidents.
Ends/Wednesday, October 18, 2017
Issued at HKT 16:01
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