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LCQ19: Illegal hawking outside Leung King Estate Market

     Following is a question by the Hon Cheung Kwok-che and a written reply by the Secretary for Security, Mr Lai Tung-kwok, in the Legislative Council today (March 16):


     It has been reported that a spate of clashes broke out on several nights early last month at an open space off Leung King Estate in Tuen Mun, which were sparked by attempts to drive away hawkers.  On the night of February 9, a number of persons wearing windbreakers bearing Chinese characters which meant "management personnel" (the suspected management personnel) obstructed the hawkers from operating business there.  There were also fights between the suspected management personnel and the supporters for the hawkers, resulting in many persons being injured and hospitalised for treatment.  Some Tuen Mun District Council members queried the perfunctory law enforcement by the Police, pointing out that while a large number of police officers had been deployed to station at the area near Leung King Light Rail Stop that evening, they retreated to an open space near Leung King Estate Community Centre upon the suspected management personnel showing up at the scene at 10.00pm.  When the fight began at around 11.00pm, those police officers only concentrated their manpower in preventing members of the public from entering the site, instead of pursuing the suspected management personnel who had attacked others.  On the other hand, the Secretary for Food and Health said in response to the aforesaid clashes that an inter-departmental group would be established to review the hawker policy.  He also indicated that on the premise of not compromising food safety and environmental hygiene, the Food and Health Bureau (FHB) would consider the feasibility of setting up open-air bazaars on a district-led basis.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) in the aforesaid incidents, of (i) the total number of persons arrested, broken down by their occupation and the offences involved (including common assault, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, disorder in public place, and other offences), and (ii) the number of injured persons being hospitalised for treatment;

(2) whether the authorities have so far instituted prosecutions against (i) any person who performed security work for reward without holding a valid Security Personnel Permit or (ii) any person who supplied the aforesaid persons to perform security work for another person; if such prosecutions have been instituted, of the respective numbers of such persons;

(3) as some members of the public have pointed out that on the night of February 9, the commander at the scene not only did not demand the suspected management personnel to show their Security Personnel Permits to verify if they were authorised to perform security work for reward, but even condoned them to drive away the hawkers and attack others in the name of performing security work, whether the authorities will investigate if there was any dereliction of duties on the part of police officers;

(4) whether it has reviewed if the Police had faults in handling the incident on February 9, and if the Police have to be held responsible for failing to curb the aforesaid violent incidents which lasted for several days and maintain public order; how the authorities will give an account of their handling of the incidents to the public; and

(5) of the objectives, work details and latest progress of the review conducted by the aforesaid inter-departmental group; and the latest progress and details of the mechanism to be formulated by FHB for vetting and approving applications for setting up bazaars?



(1) to (4) In the evening of February 2, 2016, two hawkers hawking illegally outside Leung King Estate Market (the "Market") had a conflict with the Market's management personnel, during which some persons were suspected of having caused breach of social peace, resulting in the Police's arrest of three persons involved on account of "disorderly conduct in a public place".  In the evening of February 8, the Police received respective reports from a member of the Market management personnel and a reporter of an online medium, claiming that they have been beaten up while working outside the Market.  The Police subsequently arrested three persons involved on account of "assault occasioning actual bodily harm".

     At about 11pm on February 9, a few hawkers hawking illegally outside the Market had a conflict with the Market's management personnel, during which a person was suspected of having caused breach of social peace and was then arrested by the Police on account of "disorderly conduct in a public place".  At about 11.30pm of the same night, a few hawkers were hawking illegally again outside the Market.  They left on their own voluntarily upon the Police's advice.  During such, there were, however, approximately two to three hundred onlookers, and some of them heckled loudly and engaged in a war of words, making the situation chaotic.  In view of this, the Police took crowd control measures and separated people of different opinions and maintained public order to prevent further scuffles.  In the chaos, four onlookers (including a reporter of an online medium) reported that they have been beaten up.  Subsequently, the Police arrested two persons involved on account of "assault occasioning actual bodily harm".

     The Police have so far arrested nine persons in relation to the above cases which took place between February 2 and 9.  The cases are being pursued and investigated by the District Crime Squad of Tuen Mun.  During the clashes, seven persons sustained injury and were sent to the Tuen Mun Hospital for treatment.

     As regards whether the cases involve any person who does not possess a valid security personnel permit, the Police approached and asked, on the same night when the clashes took place, the management company of Leung King Plaza and the Market, and requested a check on the identities of the personnel performing management work near the Market.  The Police are investigating the cases and seeking legal advice.  If there is sufficient evidence of unlawful acts, the Police will prosecute the persons involved.

     The Police are concerned about and keeping a close watch on the situation near the Market.  Patrols have also been strengthened.  In case of any disruption to social peace or behaviour involving criminal elements in the community, the Police will take actions in accordance with the law.

(5) It is mentioned in the question that the Secretary for Food and Health (the "Secretary") indicated earlier in response to the aforesaid clashes that an inter-departmental group would be established to review the hawker policy.  According to the Food and Health Bureau (FHB), the Secretary was actually referring to the discussion among the relevant bureaux and departments on the clash of the evening of February 9 near the Market.  In fact, the Government conducts, from time to time, internal cross-bureau/departmental discussion on social issues involving different bureaux and departments.

     On the development of open-air bazaars, the Government is open to any specific proposal, and considers the district-led approach desirable.  The Government will render assistance to development proposals as long as they will not jeopardise food safety and environmental hygiene or obstruct public access, and provided that suitable sites can be located by the organisations concerned and that support from local communities and respective district councils (DCs) is obtained.  In November 2015, the Government received submissions on proposed open-air bazaars, including one for operating a bazaar in Tin Shui Wai.  FHB has written to the DC Chairman concerned, anticipating that he will put forward the proposal to the DC for discussion and follow-up.

Ends/Wednesday, March 16, 2016
Issued at HKT 17:34


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