Angered by shopkeepers

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 August, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 August, 1997, 12:00am

On the afternoon of July 24, I went through an experience that left me both angry and concerned.

Living in the New Territories I went into Kowloon to take care of some errands.

On my way back I stopped in Samshuipo and went into the basement of the Golden Shopping Centre to buy some cartridges for my computer printer. I had some free time so I strolled around the many shops selling all kinds of computer hardware and software.

I saw one quite large room with many people inside and entered to see why it was so popular.

I saw that they were selling illegal software and upon examination I saw programs that when sold legally fetched a price of $900, but they were selling for $40. After a few minutes I decided to leave and headed for the door. As I approached I saw some excitement and the only door to the room was slammed shut and locked. One employee then remained in front of the door to prevent any of the 96 customers from leaving. I was later told that the building was being raided by customs officials and the staff member would not allow us to leave fearing that the customs officers would then detect their shop and arrest the lot of them. We were all kept in the room against our will for over an hour and a half.

The thought came to mind that had a fire or another type of emergency took place that we all would have been in extreme danger as we were locked in with no other exit possible. I was angered at the audacity of the shopkeepers to assume the right to detain me and the rest of the 96 people against our will to hide their operation. I was also concerned that should the Customs Department raid this building in the future on a regular basis that there is a potential for a terrible tragedy to take place.