Moves for tighter curbs on sex comics

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 25 September, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 25 September, 1993, 12:00am

TIGHTER controls on sex and violence comics are to be considered, it was revealed yesterday.

The Government pledged to consider a proposal by the liberal political group Meeting Point for a tougher classification system, under which magazines for sale to adults would only be available in licensed shops.

The group suggested a four-tier scheme be introduced to replace the current three-tier one on indecent and obscene articles.

At present, category one covers articles neither indecent nor obscene; category two is for indecent articles which cannot be sold to people under 18; and category three is for obscene articles which are banned.

Under the Meeting Point scheme, category one would be the same; category two would be for articles unsuitable - but not banned - to those under 18; category three would be for indecent articles banned to those under 18; and category four would be for articles banned for everyone.

Meeting Point member Andrew Cheng Kar-foo said the existing category two was too wide, with many comic books allowed on the market containing excessive violence and depictions of nude women.

''The problem is that publications are not required to be sent for classification at present. Many indecent article publishers classify their publications as category two themselves with a tiny warning notice printed on the covers.

''They can easily escape inspection in this way, although the books might contain obscene drawings,'' Mr Cheng said.

He suggested indecent articles should be put in non-transparent plastic bags with a warning notice at least one-tenth of the cover's size.

Secretary for Recreation and Culture James So Yiu-cho promised to consider the proposal.

He admitted there were loopholes in the Control of Obscene and Indecent Articles Ordinance, which has been in force since 1987. Six comic books and magazines were ruled as obscene and banned by the Obscene Articles Tribunal between January and August this year, while 13 were considered obscene for the whole year in 1992.

Also yesterday, the Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority (TELA) launched a territory-wide warning campaign to newspaper vendors.

Officials sent letters reminding vendors not to sell or display indecent articles to young people or they could face a maximum penalty of $200,000 and one year's jail.

While some newspaper vendors said they would not sell indecent magazines like Playboy and Hong Kong 97 to young people, they did sell kung fu and ''sexy'' comic books to them because that was how they made most of their money.

The easy availability of indecent comic books to youngsters has aroused public concern, although no newspaper vendor has been prosecuted for selling the product to minors.