Stalking Consultation Paper
21 July 1998
The Law Reform Commission of Hong Kong
Attentation: Mr Stuart M I Stoker, Secretary
STALKING CONSULTATION PAPER
We are writing with our comments on the above consultation paper.
In general, the paper seems well researched, and we appreciate the effort made to consider and draw upon the experience of advanced jurisdictions overseas. We therefore do not have comments on the substance of the paper.
Our concern is rather with the rationale for the whole exercise. Chapter 4, on the alleged need for anti-stalking legislation, states,
"...there is no data on the number of stalking cases in Hong Kong. We are also unaware of any study on the extent to which stalking is a problem in Hong Kong. Indeed, even statistics on domestic violence in Hong Kong are lacking."
In the absence of data, the paper refers to three press reports of celebrity stalking, a television series and a divorce case - and then goes on to assert that this "anecdotal evidence", together with statistics in other jurisdictions, "illustrate" that stalking is a problem in Hong Kong and that there is a need for anti-stalking legislation here.
We submit that anecdote and overseas statistics are a very poor basis for public policy-making. Press anecdotes on celebrities are likely to be highly distorted and sensationalised. Overseas experience, while an important point of reference, may not directly apply in Hong Kong. In our view the case for anti-stalking legislation in Hong Kong remains to be made.
Given the current environment in Hong Kong, in which laws are being enacted - and existing laws subject to surprising interpretations - at the whim of a small number of officials, it is unfortunate that an important piece of legislation is being put forward with so little empirical support.
We therefore recommend that comprehensive and independent studies of the alleged stalking problem in Hong Kong are commissioned by the Government without delay. Ideally these studies would be completed, and their findings properly considered, before any legislation were drafted. If the Administration must nonetheless rush into legislation, we would hope that at a minimum, a marker were put down for a fundamental review after a period of say five years, taking into account the findings of these studies and the accumulated experience at that point.
We hope that the above comments are helpful to the Subcommittee.
Alan LUNG Ka-lun
Reproduction of this paper is permitted with proper attribution to the Hong Kong Democratic Foundation