New police chief takes aim at ‘fake news’

New police commissioner, Raymond Siu, on Saturday blamed “fake news” for harming relations between the force and the public, saying it has given young people wrong impressions about the police.

Answering reporters’ questions for the first time as police chief, Siu said there is currently no legal definition of fake news, and the force would welcome new laws that empower it to bring people spreading disinformation to justice.

He said rumours such as those claiming that people died in Prince Edward station on August 31 in 2019, or detainees were tortured in a detention centre in San Uk Ling have been proven wrong.

Siu noted some “despicable” legal scholars and former lawmakers had also played a part in misinforming young people, prompting them to break the law and resort to violence.

He noted the relationship between the police and the public is not as bad as perceived.

“I don’t think the actual situation is as bad as a lot of people think. As I said, basically a lot of people are giving staunch support to the police officers.

“Why there are still some people showing hostility towards police? As I said, there are lots and lots of fake news, fake reports. And in order to improve that situation, whenever there are any fake news, fake reports, we will take immediate action to clarify those reports.”

With six media executives and editors at the now defunct newspaper Apple Daily arrested under the national security law, Siu said their investigation into the media company is ongoing and more people may be arrested.

Asked whether the police will target more news organisations in the future, he said the force will do its best to arrest lawbreakers.

Responding to claims that Hong Kong has turned into a police state – with former police officers, including Chris Tang and John Lee, taking up positions of power in the government – Siu said he believed that for any organisation, including the government, it would pick a person to lead based on their capabilities.

He added that as members of a disciplinary force, many police officers have good organisational skills.