Alpais Lam

No plan to make police insults illegal: security chief Lai Tung-kwok

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 October, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 October, 2013, 9:45am

There are no plans to make insulting police punishable by law, the security chief said yesterday in reply to questions from pro-Beijing legislators bemoaning a loss of respect for the force.

Lai Tung-kwok was speaking at a special meeting of the Legislative Council security panel, called to discuss concerns over police handling of protests.

He said no preliminary legislative work was being done on the suggestion, raised last year by Police Commissioner Andy Tsang Wai-hung, that legislation might be needed if provocations against police continued.

Lai said that while there were no plans for such a law, the government would monitor officers' mental well-being and provide counselling when needed.

Police Director of Operations Tony Wong Chi-hung said police management had not consulted the force on any such legislation and had heard no such demand at meetings with the police associations. The associations called in 2011 for a law banning the use of foul language against officers after two instances of protesters waving an English-language banner that read "f**k the police".

Throughout yesterday's meeting, pro-Beijing legislators voiced concerns about the "loss of respect" for police, typified by primary school teacher Alpais Lam Wai-sze hurling abuse at officers during a clash in Mong Kok in July. Federation of Trade Unions legislator Kwok Wai-keung said he hoped the government would consider making it illegal to insult police.

But Lee Cheuk-yan from the pan-democratic Labour Party said dignity should come from being impartial when enforcing the law. "The police commissioner is to blame for the plunging respect for the police because of the unreasonable restrictions he and other senior officers have put on protests, which also put undue stress on frontline officers."

Wong also said there had been no requests from officers to relax general orders governing their behaviour and participation in political activities.

He was responding to questions about former superintendent Gregory Lau Tat-keung's attendance of a pro-police rally in August. Wong said certain parts of the code were applied to officers on pre-retirement leave, like Lau, but did not elaborate.