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Government statement on removal of exhibits in public place

     A Government spokesman today (May 31) made the following statement on the removal of exhibits in the public place at Times Square, Causeway Bay last Saturday (May 29) and Sunday (May 30):

     According to the Places of Public Entertainment Ordinance (Cap 172), an exhibition held in any place capable of accommodating the public (including an exhibition of pictures, photographs or things) is defined as an entertainment. A Places of Public Entertainment Licence is required from the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD).  Exceptions are made for only displays in certain government venues which are exempted from the Ordinance. Examples of such venues include those managed by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (including the Victoria Park).

     In 2009, about 1,100 temporary Places of Public Entertainment Licences were issued by FEHD and around 90 of which were for entertainment activities of non-typical nature (such as photograph displays and education exhibitions).

     In the operations over the weekend, after FEHD officers had noted that the organisers' intention was to display some exhibits at the public place at Times Square, they made enquiries with the organiser on the purpose of display. They were in turn told that the relevant items were for display at an exhibition but they had not applied for any licence for the purpose.  After giving repeated warnings to the organiser to leave with their items but to no avail, the FEHD officers took out prosecutions. Since the organisers refused to remove the exhibits, the Police warned the organisers repeatedly to cease committing the offence.  However, these warnings were ignored.  The Police then took arrest action and removed the exhibits.

     As far as the Government knew, although the organisers had written to the Times Square for holding activities at the above-mentioned site, the request was rejected by the latter. Moreover, even if the request were approved by the venue management, organisers would still have to apply for the relevant licence from FEHD under the Ordinance. In this respect, two temporary places of public entertainment licences had been applied for in respect of the commercial promotional activities currently held at Times Square.

     The organisers subsequently requested the return of the exhibits.  Following legal advice, the Police are now contacting the responsible persons to make arrangements for the return of the exhibits on undertaking to follow police requirements.

     The Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) has received from an organisation an application to use the Victoria Park from June 2-4 for staging an assembly. The application is being processed in accordance with the established procedures. The organisation expects that a large number of people will take part in the assembly at the Victoria Park on June 4. For the sake of public safety, the LCSD, empowered by the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (Cap 132) to properly manage the public pleasure grounds, has requested the organisation to provide certification issued by authorised persons / registered structural engineers for exhibits exceeding 1.7 meter tall and to place such exhibits concerned in isolation from the crowd to ensure safety. Moreover, the LCSD has requested the organisation to undertake sufficient public liability insurance for the event including the exhibits.   

     The spokesman stressed that the authorities had been handling the case in accordance with the relevant law.

Ends/Monday, May 31, 2010
Issued at HKT 23:26


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