Fewer than half of the visitors who attended open days held to mark the city’s first National Security Education Day were unconnected to the disciplinary services who staged the events, according to official statistics.
FactWire, who compiled the data, also found that the number of people who visited just one of the events alone – at the Hong Kong Police College – outweighed the total number of visitors combined who attended the four other events held on the same day by other disciplinary services.
Presented with the data, the government declined to provide an explanation for the allocation of tickets.
The training school open days was part of the promotional and educational activities organised by the Committee for Safeguarding National Security of the HKSAR, in support of the National Security Education Day on April 15, 2021.
Schools opening their doors to the public that day included the Correctional Services Department Staff Training Institute, Hong Kong Customs College, Fire and Ambulance Services Academy, Hong Kong Police College and Immigration Service Institute of Training and Development. There were two sessions per school.
A quota was set for the number of visitors to each school and tickets for the public were randomly assigned to people who had registered online in advance. Each ticket permitted the entry of a maximum of two people.
Based on FactWire’s on-site observations, the majority of visitors to the schools of both the customs and immigration services appeared to be family or friends of the forces.
According to the data provided to FactWire by the five related disciplinary forces, altogether, 1,238 visitors entered with a pre-registered online ticket, accounting for 48 percent of the total number of visitors.
Hong Kong Customs College had the lowest number of public visitors. Of a total of 265 only 30 percent of visitors – or around 80 people – had registered for public tickets. The remaining 70 percent went to Customs’ “business partners, their family and family of the officers”.
The Fire and Ambulance Services Academy received 290 visitors of which around half were random members of the public, the rest being Fire Safety Ambassadors.
Meanwhile, a total of 260 people visited the Immigration Service Institute of Training and Development, of which 114 were random members of the public. The remaining places were given to the partners of immigration services youth training programmes as well as families of the Institute’s trainees.
More than 190 people visited the Correctional Services Department Staff Training Institute. Over 60 percent were pre-registered public members, while others were family of the Institute’s trainees.
At the Hong Kong Police College event, the number of visitors reached 1,570. Approximately half of them entered via the public registration path and the rest were members of uniform groups, Senior Police Call, Junior Police Call and students.
Also, FactWire reporters applied for public tickets online but were only granted two. It shows that the number of applicants outweighed the quota for the public.
The number of visitors to all five schools totalled 2,575. More than half of that number were visitors to the Hong Kong Police College. In contrast, the total number of visitors to the other four schools accounted for only 40 percent.
Past records show that most of these schools recorded more than a thousand visitors on their previous open days, except for the Hong Kong Customs College for which no relevant open data was found. According to the Immigration Department’s website, the number of visitors on its ‘Immigration Service Institute of Training and Development Open Day cum Youth Development Day’ reached 1,800.
Only the Fire Services Department responded, saying that the quota of 300 people was set for the Fire and ambulance Services Academy. The respective quotas for the other schools are unknown.
FactWire asked for further information from the Security Bureau and the disciplinary forces, but the Information Services Department said it had “no further comment.”
Participants of the National Security Education Day activities were given a number of souvenirs including a canvas bag, a face mask holder and a USB drive of 16GB. In response to FactWire’s enquiry, the government did not disclose the cost of organising the open days and procuring the souvenirs, instead pointing out that the National Security Education Day was organised by the Committee for Safeguarding National Security of the HKSAR, and that the relevant amount was included in the expenditure for safeguarding national security.
The city’s Budget 2021/22 had eight billion dollars set aside for a “special fund to meet the expenditure for safeguarding national security.” Its breakdown and allocation remain unknown.