Following is a question by the Hon Cyd Ho and a reply by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Raymond Tam, in the Legislative Council today (February 22):
It has been reported that regarding the incident of a mainland visitor being rebuked on the spot by a member of the public of Hong Kong for eating and drinking in an MTR train compartment, Kong Qingdong, a Peking University professor, commented on a television programme that "if order is maintained by the legal system, it shows that people are lacking quality and self-consciousness, they will not behave well if they are not being flogged, and it all comes down to one word - cheap!", criticising Hong Kong people for being fettered by the law and lacking humanistic qualities. It has also been reported that this incident revealed the difference in the spirit of the rule of law between the two places as well as the conflicts of culture and identity among community groups. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) whether it knows if Professor Kong Qingdong has made other comments on Hong Kong people; if he has, of the details; after the aforesaid incident, whether other mainland academics have made any remark on the words and deeds of Hong Kong people; if they have, who these academics are and to which tertiary institutions they belong;
(b) of the resources allocated by the SAR Government for publicising Hong Kong's edge in the rule of law on the Mainland in the past 10 years; of the targets for such publicity other than the government officials and business sector, and whether tertiary institutions and the media were included; whether the authorities have assessed the effectiveness of such publicity; if they have, of the effectiveness; if not, whether the authorities will formulate work plan to follow up, and of the content of such plan; and
(c) whether the authorities will reiterate to the public the SAR Government's determination in upholding the rule of law, and of the actions to be taken for demonstrating such determination; how the authorities will make joint efforts with the MTR Corporation Limited to avoid recurrence of similar incidents; what specific work the authorities will undertake to resolve the conflicts of culture and identity between the people of Hong Kong and those on the Mainland?
(a) It was stated in our written response to a similar question raised by a Member at the Legislative Council meeting of February 15, 2012 that we noticed that the comments made by a Peking University professor on a Mainland webcast television programme had aroused extensive responses in the Hong Kong community. The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government (HKSAR Government) respects and safeguards the freedom of speech and academic freedom. However, the relevant comments have gone beyond academic deliberations and are abusive. We certainly cannot endorse nor accept the outrageous comments made by that professor. Regarding whether other academics have commented on the people of Hong Kong, we have not paid special attention to this and will not keep count of and study the relevant individual comments made by them.
(b) The HKSAR Government has all along been flexibly deploying resources to promote Hong Kong overseas and in the Mainland via the overseas and Mainland Offices of the HKSAR through different channels, including arranging outgoing visits by senior officials, speeches on open occasions (including tertiary institutes) and media interviews by them, and organising various types of other promotional activities. These promotional efforts very often focus on the latest development of Hong Kong and its strengths in various aspects, including Hong Kong's legal system and the rule of law.
The HKSAR Government also invites guests from overseas and the Mainland to visit Hong Kong under the Sponsored Visitors Programme. These visitors will meet with government officials and representatives from different sectors of the community, so that they can personally observe the situation of Hong Kong.
Apart from these general promotion and publicity activities, the Department of Justice (DoJ) has been making much effort in promoting exchange and co-operation on legal matters with the Mainland authorities. Mainland legal officials may come to Hong Kong to receive training in common law under exchange programmes. Since its commencement in 1999, a total of 165 Mainland legal officials have completed the exchange programme by 2011. The DoJ has also engaged in co-operation arrangements with individual Justice Departments/Bureaux at the provincial and municipal levels whereby short term exchange programmes would be arranged on a reciprocal basis. The DoJ has also jointly organised promotional activities in the Mainland together with the Hong Kong legal professional bodies to promote Hong Kong's legal and arbitration services, such as the "Legal Services Forum" held in July 2010 in Shanghai (and the forum would be held again in the second half of this year). Moreover, visits to the DoJ were paid by officials and lawyers from the Mainland from time to time, and they were briefed on the work of DoJ and the legal system of Hong Kong. The aforementioned exchanges could enhance mutual understanding of the respective legal systems, including Hong Kong's rule of law.
(c) The rule of law, enshrined in our legal system and providing a secure environment for individuals and organisations, is undoubtedly a crucial factor in Hong Kong's success. The HKSAR Government's determination to uphold the rule of law in Hong Kong is beyond doubt.
The Mass Transit Railway By-laws (the MTR By-laws) regulates matters such as fares and tickets, conduct of passengers and activities of members of the public within the railway premises etc. When handling passengers' inappropriate behaviour, MTR staff will generally make verbal requests or issue written warnings depending on the seriousness of the situation. If the inappropriate behaviour is not rectified after repeated requests, MTR staff will collect relevant personal information from the passenger for initiating prosecution. MTR staff conduct patrols in stations and train compartments daily to perform related duties. The MTR Corporation Limited (the MTRCL) encourages passengers to report to MTR staff as soon as possible in case they are disturbed by other passengers' behaviour for immediate handling.
In addition, in order to strengthen its efforts in combating fare evasion, enforcing MTR By-laws and to assist in the management of passenger flow in stations more effectively, the MTRCL set up the By-laws Inspection Unit (BIU) in April 2009, which consists of 29 staff with experience in disciplinary services and 74 contract security staff. The BIU, station staff, the Ticket Inspection Unit and the Railway District Police work hand-in-hand to maintain order in stations.
Meanwhile, the MTRCL reminds passengers to be considerate and not to cause any inconvenience to other passengers through regular passenger education and promotional activities such as conducting courtesy and safety campaigns, as well as those through the media, in-train public announcements, passenger publications and promotional leaflets. The Government will continue to encourage the MTRCL to carry out relevant passenger education and promotional activities on a regular basis, with a view to reminding passengers to abide by the MTR By-laws.
Public education efforts are an integral part of the promotion efforts by respective parties of the Government. Among these parties, the Home Affairs Bureau (HAB) has been collaborating with the Committee on the Promotion of Civic Education (CPCE) to promote civic education outside school. The CPCE promotes various core civic values such as respect, responsibility, care and love, social harmony, courtesy, inclusiveness, etc to members of the community through various channels such as sponsoring community organisations to organise activities, publications, promotional programmes, production of TV programmes, thematic workshops and exhibitions. HAB and the CPCE will continue to promote civic education through the above channels.
Hong Kong is a multi-cultural international city and a harmonious community with heterogeneous diversity. Local residents and incoming visitors may have diverse cultural background, ways of living and social systems. It is our common hope that all people can live together in harmony, with diversity and inclusiveness under the common values of mutual understanding and respect.
Ends/Wednesday, February 22, 2012