Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok says that there is a limit to a person’s memory and not everyone can recall events with the precision of a camcorder. Lai was being questioned during a Legislative Council meeting on Wednesday over the reliability of police officers’ testimony in court.

Lai Tung-kwok. Photo: RTHK screenshot.

Lawmaker Wong Yuk-man had asked Lai to comment on a case whereby a judge had called a police officer’s testimony incomplete and untruthful.

Lai said that the judge referred the matter to the Department of Justice (DOJ), which handed it over to the Complaints Against Police Office. He also said that giving false testimony was a criminal offence and, in such an event, the police would deal with the issue seriously in accordance with the DOJ’s instructions.

Wong Yuk-man. File photo: InMedia.

However, Lai also said that there were limitations to a person’s memory.

“In court, both the prosecution and the defence could cross-examine the witnesses, and new things may emerge from their statements after the cross-examinations. This does not mean that the witness is giving false testimony,” Lai said.

“Every single witness, whether or not they are police officers, have to undergo a swearing of an oath before the court, and they are truthful [when giving their statements]. But when an incident takes place and it is retold based on one’s memory, not everyone has a memory like a camcorder and will be able to recall all of it in its entirety immediately. There is a limitation to our memory.”

Pro-Beijing DAB lawmaker Ip Kwok-him criticised the Department of Justice for taking too long to make a decision as to whether to prosecute, saying it could affect the officers’ memories. He said that the department should improve its efficiency, although he believed it had already done the best it can and many of the cases were complicated in nature.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.