162 people arrested since NSL enactment: police chief

Police commissioner Raymond Siu said on Thursday 162 people have been arrested under the national security law since its enactment in June 2020, with over 100 of them prosecuted.

He said while society has become more stable after the security law took effect, the police still noticed that some people were inciting others to commit crimes on the internet.

He added that the fact that a policeman was stabbed by a “lone-wolf” on July 1 last year and that a group was busted for allegedly planning a bomb plot shows that people could not let their guard down.

Although a number of journalists from the now-defunct Apple Daily and Stand News have been detained under the national security law and a couple of media organisations closed, Siu denied the police had been targeting the press.

He said it was the media, instead of the police, that had made the decisions to close down. He said the police would not target any particular industry or organisation, but only people who had broken the law.

Siu stressed that press freedom is not absolute and must be grounded on legal duties.

He also refused to say whether more media organisatons have been under investigation, but said those who broke the law should expect the police to come for them one day.

The police chief also defended his decision to attend a dinner party just as the fifth wave of Covid infections was kicking off in early January.

Some officials were sent to quarantine after joining the event organised by Witman Hung, a local delegate to the National People’s Congress, which was also attended by a person infected with Covid-19.

Siu said he had learned his lesson and was sorry to add to the workload of anti-pandemic staff.

But he said there were reasons to socialise with Hung, who had long worked with the force on road safety issues:

“I have no personal dealings with him. I think there is a need and it is also very important for us to maintain a strong public relation with members of public,” he said.