LCQ17: Law enforcement actions against occupation of public space

Following is a question by the Hon Paul Tse and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mr Paul Chan, in the Legislative Council today (June 17):


Some members of the public have pointed out to me that while the authorities drove away in 2012 those people street sleeping on the pavements in the Sham Shui Po district and removed their personal belongings, they have remained silent and turned a blind eye to the situation that some people have occupied, since the end of the "Umbrella Movement", the pavements along Tim Mei Avenue outside the Central Government Offices and the Legislative Council Complex for an extended period of time, and erected tents and pitches there without permission.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) why the authorities adopted entirely different law enforcement approaches in respect of the aforesaid two cases of pavement occupation;

(2) whether it has assessed if such prolonged occupation of the pavements along Tim Mei Avenue has given the public an impression that the Government is selective in taking law enforcement actions, bullies the weak and fears the strong, and even does not act in accordance with the law; and

(3) whether the authorities will issue warnings to the occupiers on the pavements along Tim Mei Avenue and demand them to expeditiously remove those structures; if they will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; whether the authorities have assessed the legal or administrative consequences that may arise from the authorities' turning a blind eye to such structures for an extended period of time?


Having consulted relevant departments, my reply to the three parts of the question is as follows:

(1) and (2) There are different angles as well as different laws involved in the use and management of public pavements, such as whether the pavements are clear of obstructions, whether they are safe and clean for use, whether there are erected structures, whether the situation constitutes public nuisance etc. Relevant departments will generally consider how such street management issues should be handled having regard to the circumstances of individual cases as well as other factors, such as the number and relative priority of cases requiring attention around the same time. As the cases may be different in terms of location, duration and nature, and the local, community and security issues arising therefrom also differ, it would not be appropriate to make direct comparisons.

(3) The objects placed on the public pavements outside the Legislative Council Complex and the Central Government Offices are mainly tents, erected structures and other articles. 

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government has urged protestors to remove these tents, erected structures and other objects from the abovementioned pavements, so that members of the public can use these pavements in a normal manner. On June 13, the Police removed the potentially dangerous items at and near the tents on the aforementioned pavements in order to reduce the risk to public safety. Relevant Government departments will continue to closely monitor the situation of these pavements, examine necessary follow-up measures and take appropriate law enforcement actions at an appropriate time.

Ends/Wednesday, June 17, 2015
Issued at HKT 14:30