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LCQ9: Begging and illegal fund raising
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    Following is a written reply by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, (in the absence of Secretary for Security) to a question by the Hon Bernard Chan in the Legislative Council today (April 9):

Question:

    It has been reported that some Mainlanders who are dressed as monks are often found soliciting money on various pretexts, such as raising funds for repairing temples on the Mainland, from expatriates and visitors on the streets.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council of the following over the past three years:

(a) the number of relevant complaints received by the authorities concerned from members of the public and visitors;

(b) the respective numbers of local residents, Mainlanders and foreigners arrested for begging or raising funds illegally, the respective numbers of such persons prosecuted and the penalties imposed by the court on those convicted; and among those arrested, the number of Mainlanders who were dressed as monks; and

(c) the number of Mainlanders refused entry by the authorities who had previously engaged in begging or illegal fund raising activities in Hong Kong?

Reply:

Madam President,

(a) The Tourism Commission has not received any complaint from members of the public or visitors regarding solicitation of money in the street by individuals dressed as monks in the past three years.  The Police does not maintain statistics on such complaints.

(b) The respective numbers of local residents, Mainlanders and foreigners arrested and prosecuted for begging in the past three years are as follows:


Year    Local          Mainlanders      Foreigners
      residents
                 
Arrest Prosecution Arrest Prosecution Arrest Prosecution
ów  ówówówówówówówów  ówówówówówówówówów  ówówówówówówów
2005  9      7        175    14          0        0
2006  30    24        156    17          3        0
2007  24    24        55    14          0        0


    According to the Police's record, the penalties imposed by the court on persons convicted of begging included imprisonment (period of imprisonment from seven days to three months), fine (from $50 to $1,000) and probation (up to 12 months).

    The Police does not maintain further breakdown regarding the number of Mainlanders who were dressed as monks out of those arrested for begging.

    As regards illegal fund-raising, according to the Police's record, three persons were prosecuted for collecting money in a public place without lawful authority or excuse in the past three years.  The three persons were convicted and were sentenced to a fine of $1,000 respectively.  All of them are Hong Kong residents and neither was dressed as a monk at the time.

(c) The Immigration Department (ImmD) takes into account various factors on a case-by-case basis when examining arriving visitors, including their purpose of visit and whether they meet the general immigration requirements (for example, whether they hold a valid travel document, and have returnability to their places of domicile).

    ImmD does not maintain statistics on the number of persons denied entry because they had previously engaged in begging or illegal fund-raising activities in Hong Kong.

    For effective immigration control, ImmD regularly provides the relevant authorities of the Mainland with the particulars of those Mainlanders who have adverse record in Hong Kong (including whether the relevant persons had engaged in begging or illegal fund raising activities in Hong Kong), in order to enable the permit-issuing authorities in the Mainland to step up scrutiny of the relevant persons' subsequent applications to visit Hong Kong.

Ends/Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Issued at HKT 17:31

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