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2021-02-23 HKT 12:04
Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the government has no plans to introduce legislation that prohibits insulting public officials for now, saying her administration has more pressing issues to deal with.
Her comment comes after civil service chief Patrick Nip said last Wednesday that the government is considering introducing laws to criminalise insults to public officials.
Speaking ahead of the weekly Executive Council meeting on Tuesday, Lam said authorities have "a lot of competing demands" on their plate, and that the government has other priorities.
"We are not in a so-called very mature stage of considering a legislation in that respect, but it has been the aspiration of many of my frontline officers – it’s not just police officers – but many public officers in the front line in recent years, they have been intimidated, threatened and insulted in carrying out their duties, and this is no good for a civic society," she said.
"But one day if we were to legislate, I think we would be very careful in striking the needed balance.
"Yes, the Basic Law protects and upholds rights of individuals – including freedom of speech, freedom of expression and freedom of assembly – but as many court cases have made it very clear, these rights and freedoms are not without limitations, so when they undermine another person’s right then of course something needs to be done."
During a Legco question-and-answer session earlier this month, the chief executive outlined the government's priorities this year, including introducing legislation to ban doxxing and requiring district councillors to take an oath to uphold the Basic Law and swear allegiance to the HKSAR.