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Freedom talk “cheap” in the midst of fake news

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Fake news contributes to people’s misunderstandings with the police, according to Raymond Siu, inset.

carine chow

People who violate the rule of law have no right to speak about freedom, Police Superintendent Raymond Siu Chak-yee said when he came across fake news on social media.

After working for the police for 32 years, Siu said on a radio show yesterday that he had been in contact with many experienced media workers and that the police respect freedom of the press but not “freedom from fake news”.

“Fake news is not an accidental mistake or sharing without malice, but a deliberate attempt to mislead the public,” he said.

Siu also said that a lot of fake news and false information had surfaced over the past two years that contributed to the misunderstandings young people had with the police, government and the country, adding that the police had set themselves the goal of Clear up fake news within two hours.

His remarks came after Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said in last Wednesday’s keynote address that Chief Administrative Secretary John Lee Ka-chiu would take responsibility for fighting fake news and protecting cybersecurity.

When asked about the ban on assemblies and protests in recent months, Siu said that the Basic Law grants citizens freedom of assembly, but that they must not be abused for violent protests. “There is no absolute freedom and no freedom can override the law,” Siu said.

“Freedom is based on the rule of law. If you don’t respect the rule of law, you have no right to talk about freedom.”

While he said he respected the public’s freedom to express their views, he said that it must be done in a peaceful manner.

Siu said that there had been many violent acts in the past two years and that some politicians used the protests for political gain when they “went to the front of the protest, took pictures of the banner, and left”.

When asked whether the June 4 commemoration would be considered a violation of the law, Siu said the force would conduct an individual risk assessment if anyone wishes to organize rallies and gatherings.

The assessment will assess the risk to national security, public safety and order, and the freedoms and rights of others, including the ability to enable people to enjoy their weekends and lead peaceful lives.

He did not give a direct answer as to whether Hong Kong could still hold a candlelight vigil on June 4th.

Meanwhile, Siu said the SAR recorded 30,871 crimes in the first six months of this year, 4.6 percent fewer than in the same period last year.

The number of civil unrest-related cases, including property damage, arson and unlawful gathering, has been reduced by 10 to 45 percent.

Despite describing the overall situation in Hong Kong as stable, Siu said the authorities need to remain aware of the violent acts underground, citing the Lone Wolf terrorist attack on July 1 this year that arrested 14 members of the radical Returning Valiant group .

He also warned that some forces are still lurking in the dark to persuade people, especially teenagers, to engage in violence through magazines, online videos, or cultural activities.

Noting that many young people spend four to five hours a day browsing social networks, Siu said the police would be more concerned with social media and make policing more transparent.

The police will also expand their information network and check whether someone is inciting violence on the Internet.

Siu asked the public to report anything they suspect to the police.

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