Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing didn't hold back yesterday in telling the US how angry many Hongkongers are about alleged American spying on institutional and personal communications in the city.
In a strongly worded letter to President Barack Obama, Tsang said: "People in Hong Kong are appalled by the alleged surveillance of and intrusion into Hong Kong's communications networks by the US administration.
"We denounce any such acts by the US administration, which would undermine the security of the communications networks in Hong Kong and violate the privacy of Hong Kong people."
Tsang was writing on behalf of all lawmakers in his letter to the White House, sent via the local US Consulate General.
He said the allegations by whistleblower Edward Snowden had upset citizens and demanded an immediate explanation.
Tsang has also written to the US Senate and the House of Representatives, urging the US to give a full account of its surveillance activities on people here "without further delay".
Separately, Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok said the government was still awaiting the US's reply to claims made by Snowden that its agencies had hacked into local computer systems. "Not only the SAR government, all Hong Kong people and the Legislative Council are very concerned with this," Lai said. "We are very disappointed the US government still hasn't replied." Lai said the government would continue to urge the US to give a "complete and thorough reply".
His comments followed remarks by departing US consul general Stephen Young on Thursday that the US did not owe any country an apology regarding the alleged hacking, and that many of Snowden's allegations seemed to be self-serving and sympathy-seeking.
Lai said he believed Snowden's revelations had brought more attention to cyberattacks, citing the University of Hong Kong, the latest victim, as an example.
He said there had been an increasing number of internet crimes with the widespread use of smartphones and tablets, and that the police had set up a special office to tackle such cases.
"Internet users should raise their awareness of these crimes," he said, advising users to change passwords regularly.
A total of 3,676 HKU e-mail accounts were compromised, according to an e-mail alert sent to the victims on Wednesday, and some 259 administrative accounts were also hacked.
Lai said it would not be easy to track the hackers and such investigations needed time and sometimes foreign co-operation.