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Government upholds the principles of fairness and impartiality in handling the relocation of Yen Chow Street Temporary Hawker Bazaar
     The Government today (October 6) reiterated that it had been upholding the principles of fairness and impartiality in the relocation of the Yen Chow Street Temporary Hawker Bazaar, to ensure proper use of public fund and resources.  The Government will continue to communicate with the stakeholders and explain to them the relevant arrangements.
     A spokesman for the Food and Health Bureau said that in taking forward the relocation of the Temporary Hawker Bazaar, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) conducted six on-site surveys between end 2013 and early 2014 to ascertain the number of persons operating at the bazzar without a licence.  Any hawker confirmed to be operating at the bazzar during any of the on-site surveys were counted in.  Eventually, 33 persons were confirmed to be operating without a licence in the bazaar.  Subsequently, 17 other persons claimed that they had been operating cloth trading in the bazaar independently for a long period.
     The spokesman said, "Although the 17 persons who claim to have been operating in the market without a licence were not present in any of the on-site surveys conducted by the FEHD, the department still conducted questionnaire surveys and verification to verify their claimed 'operator status'.  They were invited to provide information in relation to their claim of operating in the bazaar, such as business registration, tax information, operation period and mode, as well as sources of their goods.  The 17 persons concerned were given several months to submit the relevant information and, during the process, the FEHD also continued its close communication with them through meetings in person or exchange of correspondence to follow up on the information they provided."
     Upon rigorous study and verification of the information provided by those persons, including contacting business operators with whom they claimed to have business relationship, the FEHD confirmed that there is no credible information or evidence to prove that they have bona fide operated independently at the bazaar for a long period.  As such, the department cannot treat them like the other 33 registered unlicensed operators.  Besides, the information also reveals that the majority of them are assistants, relatives or friends of the licensed operators or registered unlicensed operators, with some of them being spouses, children or in-laws.  The relocation exercise will not affect their current employment or working relationship.  They can continue to work as the assistants of their relatives or concerned vendors after the relevant licensed operators or registered unlicensed operators have been relocated.  If they want to start their business, they can choose to participate in the open bidding exercise for a tenancy agreement of other fabric stalls at Tung Chau Market, competing with other members of the public who are interested in joining the fabric trade in an impartial, open and fair manner.
     "However, after we had notified them of the verification results, some of them claimed that they had extra information to prove that they had bona fide been operating in the bazaar independently for a long period.  Hence, the FEHD has contacted the persons concerned, inviting them to provide the relevant information on or before October 11.  Along the past practice, the department will study and verify the information provided in a rigorous manner, with a view to completing the review."
     The spokesman reminded the persons concerned that the information provided must be true and accurate.  Any person who deceives, thus resulting in obtaining public resources or prejudice to the Government, commits the offence of fraud under the Theft Ordinance (Cap 210), which would render the offender liable on conviction to a maximum penalty of imprisonment for 14 years.  Under the Criminal Procedure Ordinance (Cap 221), any person who aids, abets, counsels or procures the commission by another person of any offence shall be guilty of the like offence.
     The spokesman stressed again that in handling issues involving public resources, the Government must vet the eligibility of applicants, following the principle of impartiality and fairness, by examining facts and evidence.  Only through this approach can the long-term public interest be protected.  While the Government has exercised discretion in dealing with the relocation of unlicensed operators of the bazaar, the pre-requisite must be their bona fide long-period independent operation at the bazaar.
Ends/Thursday, October 6, 2016
Issued at HKT 21:01
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