Man jailed 18 months for burning welfare form

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 12 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 12 May, 2012, 12:00am


An unemployed man has been sentenced to 1? years in jail for setting an application form on fire inside a social welfare office after his welfare payments were terminated.

Leung Kin-man, 43, had pleaded guilty to one count of arson for igniting the form with his lighter and throwing it at a wall. Closed-circuit television footage showed him walking away without checking whether anyone had been hurt.

'The court shall not tolerate such reckless acts that disregard the safety and properties of others,' Judge Joseph Yau Chi-lap said in the District Court yesterday.

Leung had been receiving HK$3,900 a month under the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance scheme. He had visited the Social Welfare Department's office in Lai Chi Kok on December 1 to contest a decision to end the payments when he suddenly set the form on fire.

Yau said the department stopped payments because Leung failed to show he had sought work.

'There are a lot of CSSA applicants in Hong Kong,' the judge said. 'If everyone behaved like you, society would be enormously chaotic.'

The charge warranted up to 27 months in jail, he said. Leung received a lesser sentence because of his guilty plea.

The department said it welcomed the ruling, which it felt might prevent similar events in the future.

It was not the first incident of its kind. Launderette owner Wu Kin-ping, 50, was jailed for four years after starting a fire at Revenue Tower in Wan Chai in 2008. In 2000, a confrontation at Immigration Tower over the right of abode ended in a blaze that killed an immigration officer and an abode seeker.