LCQ7: Money collection activities in public places carried out by political organisations
Under section 4(17)(ii) of the Summary Offences Ordinance (Cap. 228), any person who, without lawful authority or excuse, carries out money collection activities in a public place for non-charitable purposes, shall be liable to a fine of $500 or to imprisonment for three months, except with a permit issued by the Secretary for Home Affairs. It has been reported that in recent years, quite a number of political organisations, such as political parties, have carried out illegal money collection activities along the routes of public processions. Some members of the public are of the view that the Government should step up law enforcement efforts to stop such an undesirable trend from spreading. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) whether it knows the number of money collection activities carried out by various political organisations along public procession routes and the total amount of donations collected in each of the past five years, together with a breakdown by (i) whether a permit in respect of the activity had been issued, and (ii) the name of the political organisation that organised the activity;
(2) whether it took law enforcement actions against the aforesaid illegal money collection activities in the past five years; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; whether it will step up law enforcement efforts; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and
(3) whether, in the past five years, the authorities (i) publicised among members of the public that they should, before making donations, enquire if the money collection activities concerned are legal, and (ii) publicised among various political organisations that they should obtain a permit before carrying out money collection activities; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
Upon consultation with the Security Bureau, our consolidated reply to the various parts of the question is as follows:
The Secretary for Home Affairs may issue permits under section 4(17) of the Summary Offences Ordinance (Cap. 228) for collection of money or sale of badges, tokens or similar articles in public places for any non-charitable purposes. Such activities, if held without obtaining fund-raising permits for non-charitable purposes, are subject to prosecution by the Police under the provision, rendering the relevant parties liable to a fine of $500 or to imprisonment for 3 months.
The Police have the duty to take lawful measures to regulate public meetings and processions as appropriate to ensure public order and public safety. Pursuant to the Public Order Ordinance (Cap. 245), in the event of the attendance of public meetings or processions exceeding the respective limits prescribed in the Ordinance, i.e. public meetings of more than 50 persons and public processions of more than 30 persons, the organisers shall, in accordance with the Ordinance, give a notice in writing to the Commissioner of Police (the Commissioner) not less than seven days prior to the intended events, which can only be conducted if the Commissioner gives no prohibition or objection. The Commissioner may impose conditions on a notified public meeting or procession. The conditions so imposed will be stated explicitly in the “letters of no objection” issued to the organisers and uploaded to the police website for public viewing. In respect of notified public order events involving fund-raising activities, the Police will, in the "letters of no objection", remind the organisers to appeal to the participants not to engage in any fund-raising activities without obtaining the permits required.
In the past five years, the Secretary for Home Affairs issued 16 fund-raising permits for non-charitable purposes under section 4(17) of the Summary Offences Ordinance (Cap. 228). Among these non-charitable fund-raising activities approved, none of them involved public meetings and processions.
Generally speaking, if the Home Affairs Bureau (HAB) receives complaints of suspected fund-raising activities for non-charitable purposes held by individuals or organisations without permits in public places, referrals will be made to the Police for follow-up investigation. Members of the public may also directly make a report to the Police regarding any suspected fund-raising activities without permits. After receiving a referral or report, the Police will follow up as appropriate by, for example, asking the individual or organisation concerned to provide supporting documents, conducting investigation as to whether the activity involves deception or other criminal offences, warning the individual or organisation concerned, etc. If there is sufficient evidence, the Police will take actions in accordance with the law.
The Police have been handling fund-raising activities during public meetings and processions in accordance with the aforementioned mechanism, as well as ensuring that such activities and related booths or temporarily erected structures will not cause unreasonable obstruction to the proceeding of processions and endanger the safety of participants of processions or other road users, which may jeopardise public order and public safety. The Police do not maintain statistics on fund-raising activities by organisations without permits along public procession routes.
We understand that the public are increasingly concerned about the transparency and legality of fund-raising activities. To facilitate public inspection of the relevant details of approved fund-raising activities for non-charitable purposes, the HAB has been, since July 2016, uploading details of such activities upon approval of their applications, including the date, time, venue and organiser, onto the GovHK website (www.gov.hk/fundraising) and DATA.GOV.HK website (data.gov.hk).
Also, the administrative guidelines and licensing conditions for the issue of fund-raising permits for non-charitable purposes have also been uploaded onto the Home Affairs Department website (www.had.gov.hk/tc/public_forms/forms.htm) to strengthen public understanding of the relevant legislative requirements. The guidelines set out the considerations taken by the Secretary for Home Affairs in processing permit applications and the additional licensing conditions usually imposed.
The Police will continue to keep close liaison with organisers of public order events and appeal to participants to obtain the permits required before conducting any fund-raising activities. The Police will also maintain contact with the relevant government departments regarding any suspected fund-raising activities held without permits in public places, and take actions in accordance with the law.
Ends/Wednesday, January 31, 2018
Issued at HKT 14:38
Issued at HKT 14:38