Transcript of remarks by CE at media session before ExCo meeting (with photos/videos)
Reporter: Good morning, Mrs Lam. My first question is, I’ve been listening to the radio that Patrick Nip, the Secretary for Mainland and Constitutional Affairs (should be the Secretary for the Civil Service), said on the radio this morning that 600 000 people have signed up for the testing so far. Do you think it’s a satisfactory number, given that the extensive explanation you have given to the public, and only about less than one-tenth of the population has signed up? What is the problem? Do you think your popularity and people’s mistrust on you is what has been impeding the community testing programme? And second question is now that we are having this mass testing scheme happening, also students will be expected to return to school in mid-late September, given all these things that indicating lives can go back to normal, why can’t we have the election a little bit earlier than you earlier suggested? And the last question is regarding the 12 suspects who have fled to Mainland China, do you have all news about them? Are you going to retrieve them back to Hong Kong and what are the ways of doing so if there’s any intention at all? Thanks.
Chief Executive: There are three questions - one is about the numbers who have enrolled for this Universal Community Testing Programme. We have stressed that this is a service made available to people of Hong Kong who want to have this test. It is also a service to enable us to identify the remaining infected cases in community so that we could return to normal as soon as possible. The Government does not have a quantifiable target to start with, but my appeal has always been to encourage as many citizens to come forward for themselves, for their loved ones, their relatives and also their co-workers in various settings as we can because we have seen from statistics that about one-quarter of the confirmed cases were without symptoms. You can imagine that if you did not have a symptom but you go around town, then you could infect others and that is a very worrying trend. This is the purpose of the test. I don’t think it has anything to do with the Government’s popularity, but it does have something to do with people, who either don’t understand the details of the programme, the procedures, the safeguards we have put in place that they try to cause worries and fears amongst the people so they will have less confidence in coming forward. I hope that for those who have done the test in the last two and a half hours, they will be able to show to other people that this is a very safe, very simple, very straightforward process which will contribute to our anti-epidemic efforts.
We have explained so many times that conducting a general election is not a small thing. It is not just only on the voting day when we may have over three million, four million voters coming out to vote on a single day, but there are also a lot of electioneering activities and preparatory work to do before the election. To postpone the election is a very difficult decision. You remember I announced the postponement on the July 31 and I think that was during the period when we have seen successive daily cases over 100. In fact, the peak of 148 (should be 149) confirmed cases happened, I think, on the day before my announcement, so that was a very critical period and a decision had to be made. And the Legislative Council has its own cycle, just like government work has its own cycle, so without knowing when this epidemic will subside and in order to preserve the normal cycle of business of the Legislative Council, the decision was taken to postpone it by one year. This is not unique to Hong Kong, as I have quoted the case of the United Kingdom. As early as March, they have decided to postpone their elections originally scheduled for May for the local governments and all the different mayors by one year to May 2021.
Reporter: …the 12 suspects …
Chief Executive: That’s a matter of law enforcement. It will have to be carried out by the law enforcement authorities. If the breaching of the law took place in another jurisdiction, then of course it is up to the law enforcement bodies in that particular jurisdiction to take the necessary action.
Reporter: Are you concerned about the well-being…
Chief Executive: We will act in accordance with the law. Of course, we have a duty to ensure that justice is done and also to take care of our Hong Kong residents outside of Hong Kong. That has always been part of the Hong Kong SAR Government’s policy.
(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)
Ends/Tuesday, September 1, 2020
Issued at HKT 15:05
Issued at HKT 15:05