Any public gathering must be done in an 'orderly and peaceful' manner: HK Chief Executive
Published: Mar 28, 2023 06:02 PM

John Lee Ka-chiu, the Chief Executive of the HKSAR government, speaks with the press. Photo:

John Lee Ka-chiu, the Chief Executive of the HKSAR government, speaks with the press. Photo:

Any activities involving public gathering must be done in an orderly and peaceful manner, and in accordance with the law, said Chief Executive of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region John Lee at a press conference on Tuesday as response to questions over a gathering two days before against land reclamation in Tseung Kwan O, during which several dozen participants were reported to have to wear individually numbered badges.

We have experienced "black-clad violence," which we all suffered in 2019, and the following troubles, so we have to be careful that any public gathering will not be either hijacked or descend into chaos that will cause not just inconvenience, but risk public order, public safety and also national security, Lee said. 

We have all seen what a bad impact can be brought about if these activities turn into troubles that seriously disrupted the social order, an expert on Hong Kong and Macao affairs told the Global Times on Tuesday on the condition of anonymity, noting that it is understandable and necessary for the HKSAR government to take strict measures on demonstrations after a period of social unrest in 2019 as long as the measures are in accordance with the laws. 

Hong Kong police on Sunday permitted a small protest march under tight restrictions, one of the first demonstrations to be approved since the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Some 80 participants were required to wear numbered badges and were barred from wearing masks as the city scrapped the mask mandate on March 1. Local police monitored the activity to ensure the order as participants were opposed to a proposed land reclamation and rubbish processing project. The badges, as required by police, stated the date and name of the march, according to media reports.

In response, Lee stressed at the Tuesday press conference that everyone also has to respect the rights of other people who are not involved in the public gatherings, whether it is a procession or whether it is a public meeting, so the Commissioner of Police has a duty under the Public Order Ordinance to ensure that all these public gatherings proceed in an orderly, safe and lawful manner. 

"After every action, the police will, of course, consider the whole process and then they will come up with some good ideas about how things should proceed. So this is a balancing act that the Commissioner of Police will do, and I trust that he will do it well. The Commissioner of Police will, as a result of each public gathering, look at what has happened, and then gather the experience, and plan for future handling. So I will leave it to the Commissioner of Police to deal with it," Lee said. 

People participating in demonstrations should also take other people's rights into account when exercising their own rights. The core of demonstrations and protests is to express their ideas or demands, which could be done through many other channels such as social media platforms, TV and radio programs, the expert said. 

And reasonable demands no matter how they are expressed would be taken into account by the government, but it should take both freedom and social order into account, he noted, who also called for more public confidence in the HKSAR government in address important social issues.