Tourists angry over Chungking police raid
By CLIFFORD LO
TOURISTS in Chungking Mansions hostels claim they were harassed by law officers after being woken in an early morning raid to check visas and identity cards.
Almost 300 police and immigration officers swarmed through the Tsim Sha Tsui tenement building at 5 am yesterday, the second such operation in less than four weeks.
Officers arrested 74 people from Bangladesh, Britain, India, Nepal, the Philippines and Pakistan, mostly for immigration offences.
Last month, a total of 103 people were arrested for failing to produce travel documents in a similar raid.
African tourist Mac Banfo said: ''I was fast asleep when they knocked on my door demanding to see my passport . . . the policemen wrote down my name, checked my visa and left. But I couldn't go back to sleep again.'' He said: ''It's the first time I've visited Hong Kong. I'm very unhappy . . . It's not my country so there is nothing I can say. The thing I can do is that I won't visit Hong Kong again.'' Nigerian traveller Sunday Osazuwa said he had grown used to such incidents in the two months he had been staying in Chungking Mansions.
But guesthouse owners said the early morning raid would affect their business.
One operator, Chow Chi-keung, said: ''All the customers were disrupted and woken from their beds because they had to show their passports. Some customers won't come again.
''Chungking Mansions is a blackspot but most low-budget travellers are legitimate tourists. But some officers were wild and created an atmosphere like a robbery.'' Police said they regretted the inconvenience caused but the operations were necessary to catch people overstaying their visas or breaching immigration regulations.
Tsim Sha Tsui divisional commander Superintendent Ng Hon-kwan said the operations would continue as a result of the achievements of the past two raids.
He said the timing was appropriate because many offenders were out in the day time and returned to the guesthouses in the evening.