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LCQ2: Dragon and lion dance sports

     Following is a reply by the Secretary for Security, Mr Lai Tung-kwok, to a question by the Hon Alice Mak in the Legislative Council today (June 11):


     Under the Summary Offences Ordinance, any person who organises or participates in a lion dance, dragon dance or unicorn dance, or any attendant martial arts display (dragon and lion dance sports) in a public place is guilty of an offence unless the person has been issued with a permit by the Commissioner of Police.  In addition, applicants for the permit and all participants are required to authorise the authorities to provide the commander of the relevant police district or the licensing office with information on their criminal records to facilitate consideration of their applications by the latter.  On the other hand, no permit is required for conducting performances for combat sports such as Muay Thai and Taekwondo.  There are views that the authorities' regulation of dragon and lion dance sports has a labelling effect which makes people to form the impression that such sports are undesirable activities, thus obstructing their popularisation.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) apart from dragon and lion dance sports, whether there are other sports which are subject to similar form of regulation; if so, of the names of the sports, the regulatory practice and the reasons for imposing the regulation;

(2) apart from dragon and lion dance sports, whether there are other sports the performance of which is subject to the issuance of a permit, and whether the considerations for issuance of such a permit include the criminal records of the participants; and

(3) given that dragon and lion dance sports have become leisure sports for quite a number of primary and secondary students as well as young people, whether the authorities will review the regulation of dragon and lion dance sports; if so, when they will do so; if not, of the reasons for that?



     Section 4C of the Summary Offences Ordinance (Cap. 228) stipulates that any person who organises or participates in a lion dance, dragon dance or unicorn dance, or any attendant martial arts display in a public place, save for the person exempted by the Commissioner for Police (CP), shall be subject to the conditions of the permit issued by the CP.  The purpose of such a policy is to prevent the involvement of lawbreakers in these activities and to ensure that such activities will not cause public disorder, including traffic congestion, noise nuisance or other inconvenience to the public, or an implication on public safety.

     For comprehensive scrutiny of such applications, the Police require all applicants and participants of such activities to authorise the Police to check their criminal conviction records.  Thorough considerations are given to each and every application.  In case the applicants or the participants are found to have criminal conviction records, the Police shall, taking into account the nature and gravity of their convictions, consider whether the purpose of such activities is to genuinely celebrate festivals or offer performances, or to cover up illegal activities.  Persons with criminal conviction records are not automatically banned from taking part in these activities.  Upon scrutiny, the Police shall reject applications that are suspected to be related to illegal activities.

     My reply to Hon Mak's question is as follows:

(1) The Summary Offences Ordinance does not require organisers of sports performances other than lion dances, dragon dances or unicorn dances, or any attendant martial arts displays to apply for a permit from the Hong Kong Police Force (HKPF).  Regarding the execution and issue of licences and permits for which the HKPF is responsible, a prior application to the HKPF for a licence for possession in accordance with the Firearms and Ammunition Ordinance (Cap. 238) is required in case of possession of arms for shooting sports or performances.  The HKPF, when considering whether to issue such a licence, shall strike a balance among various factors, taking into account whether the applicant is a fit and proper person to whom the licence may be granted (which includes checking of the applicant's criminal conviction record); whether there are good reasons for the applicant to hold a licence; and whether the application may have an implication on public safety and order.

(2) According to the Home Affairs Bureau, all sectors of the community are encouraged to participate in sports.  In general, sports performances are not subject to restriction unless the organisation of such performances may entail a gathering of a large crowd, involve temporary traffic control measures, or if such performances are conducted in a public place.  If this is the case, the organiser shall seek advice from and/or make an application to the departments concerned.  A Place of Public Entertainment (PPE) licence from the Food and Environment Hygiene Department is required for any events involving a PPE as defined in the Places of Public Entertainment Ordinance.  Checking of criminal conviction records of the applicants and the participants is not a requirement, as far as the PPE licensing regime is concerned.

(3) Given the unique nature of lion dance, dragon dance or unicorn dance sports, it is necessary for the Administration to ensure that public order is not disturbed and that public safety is not at risk when such sport activities are conducted in public places.  The issue of a licence may help ensure that no lawbreakers shall make use of such activities and performances for illegal purposes.  The licensing regime is effective and it is also of practical need.  We have to stress that there is no intention on the part of the Administration to impede the proper development of such activities.  Participants are required to apply for a licence from the Police only when their performances are to be held in public places.

     As a matter of fact, according to subsection (2) of section 4C of the Summary Offences Ordinance (Cap. 228), the requirement of licence applications does not apply to any person exempted by the CP.  Regarding the participation of primary and secondary students in such activities, if schools or uniform groups wish to conduct performances of lion dance, dragon dance or unicorn dance in public places, the organiser may submit applications for exemption in writing to the HKPF.  Upon examination of all factors, the Police may consider granting an exemption if they are satisfied that such performances will not involve any lawbreakers and that they will do no harm to public order and public safety.

Ends/Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Issued at HKT 18:42


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