Press Releases

LCQ3: The Government's deployment against Occupy Central

     Following is a question by Dr the Hon Kwok Ka-ki and a reply by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Raymond Tam, in the Legislative Council today (June 18):


     In attending the Question and Answer Session of this Council last month, the Chief Executive (CE) stated that the Government would not underestimate the eventuality of "Occupy Central", and therefore he himself, the Security Bureau and the Hong Kong Police Force attached great importance to this issue. They were making due preparation on various fronts, including operational deployment. CE also pointed out that as Occupy Central would paralyse Central, the Government would not issue letters of no objection in respect of assemblies, demonstrations and processions to any person who seeks to paralyse the financial centre. In addition, the initiators of Occupy Central will hold a ballot on the 22nd of this month inviting the public to choose a proposal for selecting CE by universal suffrage in 2017, and Occupy Central will strive for the implementation of that proposal. Regarding the Government's deployment against Occupy Central, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) whether it will consider incorporating the proposal chosen through the aforesaid ballot by Occupy Central into the document for the second-round consultation on constitutional development, so as to avoid the occurrence of Occupy Central; if it will not, of the policies and procedures based on which the authorities will decide whether to incorporate the proposals supported by the public into that consultation document;

(2) whether there were cases in the past five years in which the Police had already made decisions of refusal to issue letters of no objection before the organisers of assemblies or processions submitted their applications; if there were, of the number and details of such cases; whether the Police have decided, in accordance with the aforesaid remarks made by CE, not to issue letters of no objection to public assemblies or processions involving Occupy Central; if they have so decided, whether it is because of the fear that such activities may subsequently develop into Occupy Central, whether such a practice is different from the established procedures adopted by the Police in the past and whether it will become a precedent; and

(3) whether it will keep the personal information of the participants of Occupy Central for reference by government departments or other employers in future recruitment exercises; if it will, of the details, including the legal and policy bases for such a practice, and whether its purpose is to discourage the public from participating in Occupy Central?


Mr President,

     In consultation with relevant bureaux, the consolidated reply to the questions raised by Dr the Hon Kwok is as follows:

(1) The five-month consultation on the methods for selecting the Chief Executive (CE) in 2017 and for forming the Legislative Council (LegCo) in 2016 ended on May 3, 2014. The Administration is currently consolidating and analysing views received during the consultation period, as well as compiling the consultation report, with a view to assisting the CE to submit a report to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPCSC) to kick-start the "Five-step Process" of constitutional development. The Administration will faithfully reflect views received during the consultation period in the consultation report. As we have mentioned in the consultation document, the proposals should be, legally, strictly in accordance with the Basic Law and relevant Interpretation and Decisions of the NPCSC; politically, the proposals should stand a reasonable chance of gaining support of the community and securing passage by a two-thirds majority of Members in the LegCo; and operationally, the proposals should be practical and practicable. In the second stage consultation document to be published at the end of this year, the HKSAR Government will put forward specific proposals that are in accordance with the Basic Law and relevant Interpretation and Decisions of the NPCSC, and on such basis, further forge consensus in the community, and work together to successfully implement universal suffrage for the Chief Executive election in 2017 as scheduled in accordance with the law.

(2) According to the Public Order Ordinance (the Ordinance), any public meeting or procession the attendance of which exceeds the limit prescribed in the Ordinance, i.e. public meetings of more than 50 persons and public processions of more than 30 persons, shall give a notice to the Commissioner of Police (CP) not less than seven days prior to the intended event. In consideration of public order and public safety, CP may prohibit, object to or impose conditions on a notified public meeting or procession, and shall inform the organisers of his decision in writing. Any condition(s) imposed shall be explicitly stated in the "letter of no objection" to the organisers beforehand. A public meeting or procession may only be conducted if CP does not prohibit or object to it. Organisers may appeal to the statutory and independent Appeal Board on Public Meetings and Processions if they consider CP's decision unreasonable.

     Under the statutory notification mechanism, the Police shall, on the basis of the above principle, deliberate on each notification of public meeting or public procession received according to the law, and shall inform the organisers of the decision in writing. It is only upon receipt of a notification to hold a public order event shall the Police consider the issue of the "letter of no objection" and the corresponding conditions.

     During the Legislative Council's Question and Answer Session on May 22, the CE expounded the Government's principle for handling the matter in question by pointing out that "the Government will not issue letter of no objection in respect of assemblies, demonstrations and processions to any person who seeks to paralyse the financial centre". In his reply he further indicated that the Government would "act in accordance with the law". The CE did not and will not interfere in CP's decisions on the handling of public processions and meetings in accordance with the laws of Hong Kong. As in the past, the Police shall handle all public processions and meetings according to the law. It is worthwhile to note that no public meeting has ever been organised with an aim to cause a large-scale paralysis of Central. We would like to take this opportunity to remind the public that the initiators of the "Occupy Central" activity have earlier made it clear that "occupying Central by civil disobedience" is an act against the law. As early as January 2013, one of the initiators, in a newspaper article entitled "The Most Lethal Weapon of Civil Disobedience", remarked that in a bid to paralyse the political and economic hub of Hong Kong, non-violent means of civil disobedience would be employed by rallying up to 10 000 protesters to occupy the main roads in Central illegally for a long period of time, with a view to forcing the Central Government to accede to their demand. In May 2013, the initiator, in another article entitled "What Offences Could Be Committed By 'Occupy Central'?", further pointed out the laws that the participants might possibly contravene, as well as the penalties to which first offenders might be subject to. Having regard to these open statements, the initiator of the movement has explicitly admitted that "occupying Central by civil disobedience" is an act against the law.

(3) All government departments have to strictly comply with the provisions in the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance (the PDPO) when collecting and handling personal data. Unless the exemptions as set out in the PDPO are applicable or the prescribed consent of the data subject has been obtained, personal data may only be used for the purpose for which the data was collected or a directly related purpose.

Ends/Wednesday, June 18, 2014