Publishers stick with free knives in comics

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 08 January, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 08 January, 2000, 12:00am

Youngsters will continue to get metal weapons as gifts when they buy comics from newspaper stands, publishers announced yesterday.

Metal knives as long as 15cm are being given free in more than 10 comics published this week, and any longer gifts will be made of soft plastic.

The Hong Kong Comics Federation, which represents 70 per cent of comics publishers, believes this is in line with new guidelines to make free gifts safe.

The guidelines, which have no binding effect, said gift weapons over 15cm should be made of soft plastic, while shorter ones could be metal, but blunt.

Federation president Tony Wong Chun-loong, who heads the comics giant Jade Dynasty Publications, admitted they could not prevent youngsters from using the weapons dangerously.

'If readers became irrational even a pencil can be very dangerous, because even a pencil can have a sharp point and be longer than seven inches [17.5cm]. It is very difficult to guard against irrationality,' he said.

But Gary Fan Kwok-wai, convener of the Democratic Party's concern group on harmful publications, said the gifts would encourage violence.

'Giving away six-inch [15cm] metal knives is to commercialise and romanticise violence. This will endanger our teenagers in the extreme,' he said.

Publishers showed a lack of 'social responsibility' by allowing youngsters to obtain weapons so easily, he said.

Newspaper hawkers, who refused to sell weekly comic Biohazard in December because it came with a 20cm knife, said as long as the gifts stayed lawful they would sell them.

'Metal knives below six inches [15cm] are acceptable, if they are not so dangerous and not so real,' Hong Kong Newspaper Hawkers' Association executive supervisor Tang Yup-ming said.

Publication of another weekly comic, Skywalk Warrior, has been postponed to remake 20cm gift knives in soft plastic.