Terrorism is growing. Support for establishment of national security legal system and enforcement mechanisms (Translation)

The Police found explosives again earlier this month at an abandoned secondary school site. The explosives discovered include ANFO (ammonium nitrate/fuel oil), pressure cooker, nails and chemicals suspected to have been stolen from the Polytechnic University last year. As the Secretary for Security, I am very concerned about the development. Since last year, there have been some 10 cases involving explosives and dangerous goods, showing signs of the growing of local terrorism in Hong Kong. The public must look squarely at the problem and should not allow terrorism to take root in Hong Kong.

Many members among the public still mistakenly think that local terrorism is of no concern to them. This is exactly where the problem lies. I would like to elaborate on the real threat posed by the growing of local terrorism from three perspectives.

First, the various types of explosives seized by the Police include TATP (triacetone triperoxide), ANFO (ammonium nitrate/fuel oil), HMTD (hexamethylene triperoxide diamine), DNT (dinitrotoluene) and black powder, which are commonly used in overseas terrorist attacks:

(i) TATP, a powerful homemade high explosive, was used in many terrorist incidents that shocked the world, including the serial bombing of the underground and a bus in London of the United Kingdom in 2005, which resulted in over 50 deaths and 700 injuries; the serial bombing at the airport and a metro station in Brussels of Belgium in 2016, which resulted in over 30 deaths and 250 injuries; and the serial bombing at churches and hotels in Sri Lanka in 2019, which resulted in over 250 deaths and 500 injuries.

(ii) ANFO was used in the bombing at a federal building in Oklahoma of the United States in 1995, which resulted in over 160 deaths and 680 injuries; and the bombing at government buildings in Oslo of Norway in 2011, which resulted in 8 deaths and 30 injuries.

(iii) HMTD and black powder were used in the bombing at a seaside park and busy streets in New Jersey and New York of the United States in 2016, which resulted in 34 injuries.

(iv) DNT is a powerful explosive used in the early stage of manufacturing TNT (trinitrotoluene), and TNT was the explosive detonated in the bombing of the Erawan Shrine in Bangkok of Thailand in 2015, which resulted in 20 deaths and 120 injuries.

These terrorist bombings took place in different corners of the world and led to severe casualties. Members of the public must stay alert that bombs are indiscriminate and will, once exploded, harm people around by killing, causing serious physical disabilities and destroying buildings. During an explosion, no one in the vicinity can escape.

Second, the methods intended to be used by rioters to launch an attack resemble those adopted in overseas terrorist attacks. The items seized by the Police included pressure cooker bomb and nails; pressure cooker bomb was used by terrorists in the marathon bombing in Boston of the United States in 2013, which resulted in 3 deaths and 264 injuries. Besides, the Police seized detonating devices made of mobile phones, and similar remote devices were used in the serial bombing in New Jersey and New York of the United States in 2016, which resulted in 34 injuries. The Police also seized pipe bomb (which could be hurled like hand-grenades), and similar bomb was detonated at a New York subway station in 2017, which resulted in 3 severe injuries.

Third, the raw materials seized by the Police are alarming in types. They are extremely toxic and highly flammable chemicals, including potassium nitrate, ammonium nitrate, sulphur, acetone, strong acids, cyanide, ethanol, zinc cyanide and mercury dithizonate. If these chemicals are used for launching attacks, they can cause severe injuries and deaths.

Besides explosives, the Police seized five genuine guns and a large quantity of bullets in their operations, including a semi-automatic rifle. The same kind of rifle was used in the mass shooting on a crowd of concertgoers in Las Vegas of the United States, which resulted in over 50 deaths.

The Hong Kong Police Force is a highly effective law enforcement team, and this is demonstrated by the Police’s past successes on cracking down extreme acts in some 10 operations. However, we cannot lower our guard. The Government is keeping a close watch over the development and does not rule out the escalation of the terrorist threat level. In the event of a terrorist attack or once the terrorist threat level is raised, the Police may have to lock down high-risk locations, carry out high-profile patrols, search personal belongings and conduct security checks in public places to ensure public safety. Members of the public should cooperate in these operations to safeguard safety of their own and society.

Local terrorism endangers every individual, posing harm to innocent members of society. Counter-terrorism is an issue concerning all members of society. The public should cooperate with and assist in the operations of the Police and law enforcement agencies, and report any suspicious situations to the Police under circumstances where personal safety is not compromised.

I have requested the Police, disciplinary forces and relevant departments in the Government to strengthen internal preparedness, enhance gathering of intelligence, review counter-terrorism contingency plans with particular focus on those related to public transport facilities and boundary control points, and strengthen counter-terrorism collaboration and public education through exercises.

Safeguarding national security is a constitutional duty of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), and is related to the interest of all members of the public in Hong Kong. As described above, Hong Kong has seen increasing risks of endangering national security over the past year, sounding the alarm on terrorist activities in our safe city.

As the Secretary for Security, I fully support the Decision of the National People’s Congress (NPC) on establishing and improving at the national level the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for the HKSAR to safeguard national security, and authorising the Standing Committee of the NPC to enact relevant law targeting four types of activities or acts, namely secession, subversion, terrorist activities endangering national security, as well as interference with the HKSAR’s affairs by foreign and external forces. The law will be introduced into Annex III of the Basic Law and promulgated by the HKSAR.

To effectively prevent and curb terrorist acts and activities endangering national security according to the law is beneficial to maintaining Hong Kong as a safe and stable city. Safeguarding the lives and property of Hong Kong residents without affecting their legitimate freedom and rights will ensure the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong.