Transcript of remarks by CE at media session before ExCo (with video)

     Following is the transcript of remarks by the Chief Executive, Mr John Lee, at a media session before the Executive Council (ExCo) meeting today (December 13):
Reporter: Good morning Mr Lee. With the Vaccine Pass, masks and gathering limit, Hong Kong still appears to be one of the world's last zero COVID holdouts as China is rapidly loosening the restrictions. Since we have a higher vaccination rate, how do we still justify such measures? And if we do loosen the rules, should the border reopening be one of the last things to be considered if cases are increasing there? Second, the security chief made world headlines yesterday with his comments on Google's anthem results last night. Is the Government aware of the "Streisand effect" in that such continual statements could be helping not only promote the protest song, but boost its presence in search results? And will the Government buy Google ads to fix that issue?
Chief Executive: First of all, any measures that we introduce to deal with COVID is based on actual figures, data and risk assessment. That has always been the policy and this is also the reason why I made the announcement about the two new decisions just now. It's based on data, based on actual situation, and based on risk assessments.
     The second thing regarding resumption of normal travel with the Mainland, of course, I take this close to my heart, and I'll do everything that can facilitate it. But we also must be aware that decisions made are similarly based on actual situation, and also data and risk assessment in cities in the Mainland. This is a process I went through, and this is a process that I will, of course, give all my assistance to facilitate going through. But we have to look at data and the risks involved. I think all people want to have less restrictions as much as possible, while ensuring activities, socially and economically, can proceed as much as possible.
     In regard to the inaccurate playing of our national anthem, we take it very seriously because national anthem represents a country, it represents the people, it represents dignity. Any organisation, any responsible organisation, should act in such a way to ensure that the national anthem is played correctly, to respect, first of all, each country's national anthem, to respect each country's law, and also to respect the people of that country. I think that is a universal principle. And if any company is in any way responsible, he has that moral obligation that we will pursue and will continue to see what other things we will do. So definitely, we will send our letters to Google again, to pursue this matter. I also note that Google has agreed to remove a person's privacy or private data according to judgment of European court (Court of Justice of the European Union). So there are ways to do it. It's a matter whether a company acts responsibly and respects the importance of national anthem in the global context.
(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)

Ends/Tuesday, December 13, 2022
Issued at HKT 14:28