HK Customs mulls firing 3 detained officers to stop foreign collusion

By Leng Shumei Source: Global Times Published: 2020/7/9 14:59:06

A protester uses a sharp object against a police officer. The Hong Kong Police Force's newly formed special unit to safeguard national security begins functioning decisively to end riots in the city on July 1. More than 370 people have been arrested as of press time. Photo: AFP

After Hong Kong Customs authorities planned to remove three officers for their suspected violation of law, analysts said the move could help improve the civil servants' quality and rule out collusion between anti-government forces in Hong Kong and their external sponsors. 

The three officers were arrested for allegedly participating in an illegal gathering on July 1, Sing Tao Daily reported Thursday. 

The three officers, two males and one female, were suspended after the arrest. The three had been in their posts for less than three years, which means that they were still in their probationary period.

They were among the 370 people arrested for an illegal gathering on July 1. These protesters set fire on the road and smashed public facilities and shops, media reported. 

Hermes Tang Yi-hoi, the Commissioner of Customs and Excise, is considering removing them according to management regulations on civil servants, Sing Tao Daily reported. 

Tang will not make the decision to fire them until the police submit their report on the three, the Sing Tao Daily report said, citing an anonymous source. 

Tang is one of the members of the Committee for Safeguarding National Security of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region established on July 3.

The move will provide the basis for the Hong Kong Customs to safeguard national security as it helps to remove those lacking loyalty to the regional government from the system, experts said. 

The three Customs officers have shown in their behavior that they would not uphold the Basic Law or be loyal to the Hong Kong regional government, as related laws require of civil servants, so they are no longer suitable to stay in their current posts, Tian Feilong, an associate professor of law at Beihang University in Beijing, told the Global Times on Thursday.

Tian noted that Customs and immigration departments were used by anti-government forces in Hong Kong to collude with external forces and receive material support from the latter. The loyalty and political neutrality of Hong Kong civil servants should be the basis for the two systems to safeguard national security.  

It is not uncommon to see Hong Kong civil servants participating in illegal protests since last year. A total of 44 Hong Kong civil servants have been reportedly arrested, put under investigation or charged for participating in an illegal gathering, and 43 of them have been suspended. According to the national security law for Hong Kong that took effect on July 1, a civil servant shall be removed from his or her post once convicted of an offense endangering national security.

In an interview with China Central Television on Thursday, Tang said that the specific duty of Customs with regard to national security is to intercept firearms and weapons and other materials that would harm national security, noting that Customs plays a unique role in safeguarding national security and cracking down on terrorist actions. 

Tang vowed to lead the Hong Kong Customs system to dutifully safeguard the law and gateways to the city. 

Massive numbers of passengers, freight and parcels enter and leave Hong Kong every day. Hong Kong Customs has to effectively manage these channels to block arms, ammunition, and other illegal materials, Tang said. 

The Director of the HK Immigration Department, Au Ka-wang, another committee member, also said in an exclusive interview with HK media on Thursday that his department will bar those who intend to enter Hong Kong to carry out actions that damage HK or threaten national security.


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