Police officers stand guard outside the police headquarters in Wan Chai on June 21, 2019. (ROY LIU / CHINA DAILY)
HONG KONG – Secretary for Security Chris Tang Ping Keung said Wednesday that it is appropriate to maintain the threat level of possible terrorist attacks faced by Hong Kong at the "moderate" level, and any decision to raise it should be made with prudence.
In a reply to a query at the Legislative Council, Tang said the moderate level means that there is a possibility of an attack but there is no specific intelligence suggesting that Hong Kong is likely to be a target.
Secretary for Security Chris Tang Ping Keung said the police continually assess the situation and intelligence reports
"The police's assessment shows that the chance of 'lone-wolf' attacks under individual circumstances cannot be ruled out but there is currently no concrete intelligence indicating that such an attack will happen," Tang said.
“Members of the public could go on with their daily lives and travels as they are not affected. Therefore, it is appropriate to maintain the threat of terrorist attacks at the ‘moderate’ level,” he added.
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He said the police continually assess the situation and intelligence reports. Once specific and reliable intelligence is obtained, such as a terrorist organisation’s plan to launch an attack which poses a tangible threat to the public, the threat level would be raised to "high" based on the assessment.
When that happens, an immediate alert will be made to the public and a series of escalated preventive measures may be required to stop the attack from happening, such as requiring security checks on personal belongings of all bus and MTR passengers or even closing some MTR stations, Tang said.
As for the airport, it may also be necessary to step up passenger luggage and incoming vehicle checks. As such, members of the public and travelers may be required to arrive at the airport three to five hours in advance, he added.
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Tang said all these measures will inevitably bring inconvenience to the public. Given the wide impact, any decision to raise the threat level of terrorist attacks will be a very prudent one, with safeguarding public safety being the prime consideration.
Citing the lone-wolf attack on July 1 as a concrete example, Tang said that perpetrators of the violent attack in Hong Kong in recent years have very often been affected by false information on the Internet and online messages inciting violence and hatred.
On the proposal to legislate against fake news, Tang said the work involves many complicated and controversial issues and the Secretary for Home Affairs will seriously examine the experience and practices of other countries and places to provide reference for the next step of work.