Mahjong parlour request to be re-tabled

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 31 March, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 31 March, 2001, 12:00am

The Commissioner for Television and Entertainment Licensing has been ordered to review a woman's application for a mahjong parlour licence after a judge found the agency had misinterpreted government policy.

The decision could lead to a review of all mahjong applications rejected since 1998, as they had been judged on the same misinterpreted criteria.

Ivy Leung Kam-yung's application for a licence to run a mahjong parlour in Yau Ma Tei was turned down in December 1999 after the commissioner found there was no 'cogent need' for an additional 27 gaming tables in the district.

The agency also said there would be an undue concentration of mahjong parlours in the district if Ms Leung was granted a licence.

At the time of Ms Leung's application, the granting of licences to mahjong parlours depended on whether their presence would negate the allure of illegal gambling dens. A memorandum sent by the Secretary for Home Affairs to the commissioner in April 1990 stated: 'Account should be taken of the need for lawful gambling outlets in the area.'

Other factors that would be taken into consideration in granting a licence included the applicant's suitability, the area's characteristics and the public's reaction.

But Mr Justice Conrad Seagroatt yesterday found in the High Court that 'cogent need' was not part of the policy and its application amounted to a misinterpretation and misapplication of the policy.

Ms Leung was seeking an application for a judicial review of the commissioner's decision to refuse her a licence.

At the time of Ms Leung's application, there were 13 mahjong parlours with a total of 348 tables in Yau Ma Tei.

Mr Justice Seagroatt ordered that Ms Leung's application be returned to the commissioner for reconsideration.