Speeches and Presentations



Opening remarks by SCED on second round of public consultation on review of Control of Obscene and Indecent Articles Ordinance

Following are the opening remarks (English portion) by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, at a media session on the second round of public consultation on the review of the Control of Obscene and Indecent Articles Ordinance today (April 16):

The Commerce and Economic Development Bureau launches the second round of public consultation on the review of the Control of Obscene and Indecent Articles Ordinance (COIAO) today.

The Government commenced a comprehensive review of the COIAO and completed the first round of public consultation in 2009. The first round of consultation confirms general support for retaining the COIAO regulatory regime, and imposition of heavier penalties for breaches to enhance the deterrent effect of the Ordinance.

In the second round of consultation, we wish to hear from the community on two outstanding issues. First, how to reform the institutional set-up of the Obscene Articles Tribunal (OAT); and secondly, the extent to which the maximum penalties under current regime should be raised. We would like to invite members of the public to comment on the two options to reform the OAT institutional set-up, both involving the removal of administrative classification function from the OAT. These reform options seek to address the Judiciary's fundamental concerns of requiring the OAT to perform both administrative classification and judicial determination functions.

The first reform option is that the Government, instead of the Judiciary, would set up a statutory classification board and a statutory appeal panel to carry out the administrative classification function. This model is practised in Australia, New Zealand and Germany. The second option is to abolish the administrative classification function altogether. Classification matters rest with the courts. This model is practised in the UK, US and Canada. There are different considerations, of course, for the two options. We would require a broad consensus within the community in order to take the proposal forward.

The consultation will start today and will take three months. It will end on July 15. We would like to invite feedback from the community in order to allow us to draw up measures to further improve the regulation of obscene and indecent articles.

(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the opening remarks.)

Monday, April 16, 2012