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President, the recent reports about Edward SNOWDEN have aroused great concern in society. If his allegations are found to be substantiated, many major strategic resources facilities in Hong Kong, including the Hong Kong Internet Exchange (HKIX) and Satellite Remote Sensing Receiving Station, might have been hacked by the National Security Agency of the United States. In other words, our emails, Facebook and all computer data might have been unlawfully intercepted unwittingly.
Despite the claims by the United States authorities that their intelligence agency will only monitor communications suspected of involving terrorism, Hong Kong’s cyber security has already sounded an alarm. After the September 11 terrorist attack, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the United States heightening alertness to guard against persons suspected of jeopardizing national security. However, a country must also take into consideration the human rights and freedom enjoyed by people in other places while safeguarding its own national security. Recognized as one of the world’s safest cities, Hong Kong has never been hit by terrorism. What is more, terrorists are not active here. How can the United States authorities regard our network system as having no control at all and hack into it indiscriminately to unlawfully intercept our data?
President, I would like to highlight here the business sector’s concern about this incident. After the coverage of the incident, many people in the sector have relayed to me their grave concern. How can they do business if the business data of a company can be unlawfully intercepted unwittingly? What is more, the hacking of some major facilities in Hong Kong, such as financial institutions, might result in catastrophic consequences, or even undermine Hong Kong’s status as an international financial centre.
In the past, similar incidents have occurred in Hong Kong. For instance, the hacking of the HKExnews website of the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEx) on 10 August 2011 had led to the suspension of trading of stocks, such as HSBC Holdings, Cathay Pacific Airway, the HKEx, and so on. As a result, a number of investors had sustained losses. I think the SAR Government should step up its effort in safeguarding cyber security to protect personal privacy and business data.
The SAR Government should handle SNOWDEN in accordance with the law. If he has contravened the law of Hong Kong, he should be dealt with according to Hong Kong law and the judicial procedure. However, if the incident involves diplomacy, it should be handled by the Central Authorities at the diplomatic level because, under the “one country, two systems”, the Central Authorities are in charge of all foreign affairs. We also hope that the SAR Government can relay the views of Hong Kong people through a proper channel to call on the United States Government to give us a comprehensive and detailed account of its intrusion into the computers in Hong Kong. If the allegations are found to be substantiated, the United States Government should be requested to halt the relevant acts immediately and destroy all the intercepted data.
President, SNOWDEN has pointed out that he has chosen to “unveil the secrets” in Hong Kong because there is freedom of speech in Hong Kong and the interest of dissidents can be safeguarded here. In fact, freedom of speech has all along been Hong Kong’s core value that Hong Kong people take pride in. However, some people in society have persistently criticized that freedom of speech in Hong Kong has been stifled after the reunification and compared the practices of the western world and Hong Kong in order to create political disputes. This incident, if substantiated, will indeed teach us a valuable lesson to enable us to get to look at the international political environment afresh. In fact, under the “one country, two systems”, Hong Kong is indeed a blessed land. I hope Members can treasure our advantages, which are not easy to come by, as well as our core values. Most importantly, we should boost the
economy and improve people’s livelihood. The moon in overseas countries does not necessarily shine more brightly.
President, I so submit.