Published: 13:56, May 22, 2024 | Updated: 14:55, May 22, 2024
HK public officials urged to discharge duty to protect national security
By Wang Zhan
A pedestrian walks under a raft of China's national flags and flags of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region on a street in Hong Kong, China on June 27, 2023. (ANDY CHONG / CHINA DAILY)

HONG KONG – All Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government departments and public officials must discharge their duty to protect national security and consider this when formulating policies and guidelines and implementing programs, Acting Secretary for Security Michael Cheuk Hau-yip said Wednesday.

Answering a query at the Legislative Council, Cheuk said that departments and bureaus should conduct national security risk assessments “as necessary” when implementing plans and projects.

Cheuk cited as an example incorporating provisions in tender documents and procurement contracts which specify that the HKSAR government may, “in the interest of national security, disqualify individual tenderers in the procurement and terminate contracts”

“(This) includes considering whether there are needs to establish codes, guidelines and procedures, or implement other measures to safeguard national security in order to mitigate national security risks as far as possible,” Cheuk said.

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He cited as an example incorporating provisions in tender documents and procurement contracts which specify that the HKSAR government may, “in the interest of national security, disqualify individual tenderers in the procurement and terminate contracts”.

He added that bureaus and departments may seek advice from the Security Bureau and the Department of Justice on specific issues.

Cheuk made the statement after LegCo member Edmund Wong asked about the Director of Audit's reports which pointed out that many government departments have failed to formulate guidelines related to safeguarding national security or‍ incorporate clauses concerning safeguarding national security in service agreements.

Last month, the Audit Commission noted that Hongkong Post failed to include specific clauses safeguarding national security in service contracts with designers on the designs of stamp themes.

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The commission also noted several incorrect practices, including the improper description of mail services to other regions of China as “international services”.

Most important factor

Under the Safeguarding National Security Ordinance, public officials with legally defined functions have the duty to safeguard national security, Cheuk said.

“Accordingly, any person, in making any decision in the performance of the function, must regard national security as the most important factor, and give appropriate consideration to it accordingly,” he said.

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Cheuk added that safeguarding national security is a “continuing duty” for executive authorities and it “subsists throughout every stage of the formulation and implementation of any policies, programs, projects and plans".