9th August 2013
Police Deliberatly Distorts Police General Orders to Harbour Officers
Off-duty police officers and police officer on pre-retirement leave attended the denunciation event against Ms Alpais Lam Wai-sze on 4th August might have violated the Police General Orders. Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC) said the event is a political activity. The Hong Kong SAR Police Force issued a statement yesterday (8th August) defining the event is “not a political activity as restricted by the General Orders”, some officers are planning to write and complain about IPCC’s stand. CY Leung, the Chief Executive of HKSAR government, agreed with the police’s statement that “the event is not a political activity”. Lawmakers criticises the Police Department for deliberately distorts the General Orders in order to shelter the officers who participated, and said that this has completely ruined the force’s reputation.
The police force’s statement detailed the types of political activities police officers should not participate: lending support to, or participation in political activities of a political organisation; speaking publicly, including to the media, on matters of a political nature other than in the course of official duties; distributing political publications; promoting or advocating political views or the electioneering platform of any candidate; and canvassing or campaigning on behalf of a political organisation. The statement concludes that the event on 4th August is non political. The statement also hinted that given that Lau Tat-keung has handed over his warrant card before he went on pre-retirement leave means he cannot perform any police duty, him standing at the stage of the event to give a speech did not violate the General Orders.
After meeting with Director of Personnel and Training Chow Kwok-leung, Joe Chan Cho-kwong, Chairman of Junior Police Officers Associations, said that an increasing number of civilians have adapted an uncooperative and unlawful attitude toward police officers, and making it more difficult for the officers to perform their duties. Many off-duty officers participated the event because of “the passion they have for the stability and prosperity of the society”. When asked about the public discontent over police’s uneven-handed handling of disputes and conflicts, Chan said “I am not commenting this here. (Let) the public to comment.”
The organiser of the 4th August event, Leticia Lee See-yin, is the chairwoman of “Hong Kong Parents Alliance” and is currently an employee of lawmaker Priscilla Leung Mei-fun (pro-China camp). Joe Chan emphasised that the event “did not encourage citizens to vote for any individuals or parties”, so was not a political event based on the General Orders. Although Ricky Chu Man-kin, IPCC’s Secretary-General, said that the 4th August event is a political event, Joe Chan said Chu’s definition on political event “is too broad” and that Andy Tsang Wai-hung, Commissioner of Police, has “explained the General Orders in detail” in the statement, “IPCC monitors the force, so the people of Hong Kong should monitor them.”
Chu said that the police force’s statement does not conflict to his view. He thinks that the police has essentially admitted that the 4th August event is a political activity but is “not a political event regulated by the General Orders”. Dr Eric Cheung Tat-ming, a member of the IPCC and a professor at University of Hong Kong’s Law School, urged the force to review the General Orders.
The conflict between the police force and IPCC broke out after the confrontation between pro-communist and Ms Lam’s supporters on 4th August. Some officers were displeased with Chu’s view and think that he jumped into a conclusion without reviewing the case. Hong Kong Police Inspectors’ Association is drafting a letter demanding Chu to apologise. Some retired officers asked to set up an organisation to monitor the IPCC.
Commissioner Tsang refused to comment on the incident and asked the media to simply refer to the statement issued. CY Leung further simplified the statement “I agree with the police force’s statement, officers attending events in this nature is not political activity”. Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, Chief Secretary for Administration, also said that she completely agrees with the statement. She said that her niece is an inspector and “feels for” the front-line officers.
Alpais Lam Wai-sze said that many political organisations participated at the event, and it’s obvious that it is political in nature. Civil Human Rights Front’s (CHRF) “Police’s Authority Concern Group” said that Lau Tat-keung’s speech at the event was filled with political messages, for example against splitting the state and prevent sophistry from entering the legislature. CHRF criticised the police force for interpreting the General Orders arbitrarily. Lawmaker James To Kun-sun also said that the force should not interpret the Orders blindly for the sake of protecting individual officers, or it will suffer from damaging consequences.