The House News
8th August 2013
Police: Anti-Alpais Lam Gathering is Non-Political Event
The HKSAR Police issued a statement this morning which states that Lau Tat-keung, a superintendent who’s currently on pre-retirement leave, attended the “Hong Kong Parents Alliance” organised anti-Alpais Lam Wai-sze event on Sunday at Sai Yeung Choi Street South, but the it was not a “political event” regulated in the Police General Orders. The statement says that the police force hopes the society “can look at the facts of the incident”.
The statement also says that the management of the police force “completely understands the insult the front-line officers face when being verbally attacked when they’re on-duty, and many citizens would feel the same.” The police also said that given Lau Tat-keung is on his pre-retirement leave and will not be carrying out any police duty, his behaviours and actions will not affect the police to carry out their duties.
Joe Chan Cho-kwong, the Chairman of Junior Police Officers Association (JPOA), met with the media after meeting with Andy Tsang Wai Hung, Commissioner of Police, and said both JPOA and the management of the police force agree that it is suitable for off-duty officers to participate non-political event.
Chan refused to comment on whether the police was even-handed when handling the conflict between Hong Kong Youth Care Association and Falun Gong. He, however, emphasised that the event last Sunday (4th August) at Sai Yeung Choi Street South is non-political. Chan pointed out that the management of the police and JPOA both agreed that the organisers of the event (Hong Kong Parents Alliance and Hong Kong Action) are not political organisations, and the event did not involve any political topics and have no political orientation (encourage people to support a certain political party of candidate). They, therefore, concluded that the event is not a political event, and it is suitable for off-duty officers to participate.
Joe Chan also said that the off-duty officers who signed the petition during the event to support police to enforce the law only participated because of “their passion for the stability and prosperity of the society”, and he explained this to the management which have acknowledged the motives. Chan urges the HKSAR government and citizens to support the police to enforce the law. He also emphasised that police officers only want to maintain the stability of the society and “have no other agendas”.
Police statement on police officers on pre-retirement leave participating in public meetings
Regarding police officers whilst on pre-retirement leave who participated in public meetings held at Sai Yeung Choi Street South Pedestrian Precinct in Mong Kok on August 4, Police today (August 8) issued the following statement:
According to Section 18 of the Police Force Ordinance, every police officer is issued with a warrant card which is the proof of his/her appointment and authority. When officers proceed on pre-retirement leave, they will surrender their warrant cards to their senior officers on the last working day following which they will no longer have the authority to discharge constabulary duties.
Article 39 of the Basic Law and Article 18 of the Hong Kong Bill of Rights safeguard all Hong Kong residents to enjoy the rights and freedoms. Besides being regulated by the laws, police officers, as Hong Kong residents, are also entitled to the same rights and freedoms.
According to paragraph 34 of the Police General Orders (PGO), Chapter 6-01, a police officer shall at all times abstain from any activity which is likely to interfere with the impartial discharge of his/her duties, or which is likely to give rise to the impression amongst members of the public that it may so interfere. Except for in certain circumstances, a police officer shall not participate in political activities, which include:
(a) lending support to, or participation in political activities of a political organisation;
(b) speaking publicly, including to the media, on matters of a political nature other than in the course of official duties;
(c) distributing political publications;
(d) promoting or advocating political views or the electioneering platform of any candidate; and
(e) canvassing or campaigning on behalf of a political organisation.
The purpose of the above restrictions is to ensure all police officers do adopt a fair and impartial approach in discharging their daily duties. The restriction balances the civil rights of officers and the requirement for them to impartially discharge their duties. It also enables the public to appreciate police officers are politically neutral in order to maintain public’s confidence and trust in Police’s execution of duties.
It is also important to highlight the following two points :
(1) as officers on pre-retirement leave do not have the authority to discharge constabulary duties, their views and deeds therefore in general will not interfere with the impartial discharge of duties of Police.
(2) with regard to the public meeting organised by an organisation held at Sai Yeung Choi Street South Pedestrian Precinct on August 4, based on the information currently available and the PGO mentioned above, the Force consider the public meeting not a political activity restricted by the PGO.
The incident has drawn extensive debate and Police hope the community would consider the incident based on facts.
Police respect people’s right of expression, and at the same time, expect people would grant their respect and support to the frontline police officers who are executing their duties. The Force management understand the frontline officers’ sentiments of being insulted by abusive languages in the course of discharging duties, and believe many people share the same sentiments.
Police will continue to handle public events and related incidents in a professional, fair and impartial manner and maintain communication with the community to avoid misunderstanding. Members of the public are also advised to take heed of instructions of police officers and to cooperate with police’s work. It is an offence to deliberately obstruct a police officer in executing his/her duties and Police will take resolute and effective actions according to law.
August 8, 2013