60 held in swoop on IIs at flower fairs

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 February, 2008, 12:00am

Forty-three suspected illegal workers and 17 employers were arrested in a series of operations yesterday at Lunar New Year flower fairs.

Officers from the Labour Department, the police and the Immigration Department raided 26 stalls at fairs in Causeway Bay, Mong Kok, San Po Kong, Kwun Tong, Tsuen Wan and Sheung Shui.

Forty-two of the suspected illegal workers were arrested while selling flowers and potted plants. The other was arrested at a porcelain shop in North Point. Forty-one of the suspected illegal workers came from the mainland and the other two could not produce any proof of identity. The arrests came as customs officers stepped up action to clamp down on counterfeit products at Lunar New Year fair stalls.

Senior Inspector Lui Tze-cheuk said more than 50 officers had been sent to patrol the 14 New Year fairs in the city since January 29.

The officers had contacted the operators of up to five franchised trademarks after noticing suspected cases of infringement in the stalls. Senior Inspector Lui said Disney was one of the trademark owners.

'Most of the suspected cases are related to the use of cartoon logos,' he said. Offenders could be fined HK$500,000 and jailed for five years for breaching the Trade Descriptions Ordinance.

The department made six seizures at Lunar New Year fairs from 2003 to 2005, arresting 10 people and confiscating more than HK$530,000 worth of counterfeit products. There were no arrests in 2006 or last year.

Products with designs and logos that resemble franchised cartoons and local brands can be seen among the New Year Fair stalls in Victoria Park. For example, cotton T-shirts with a Mickey Mouse-like logo, dubbed 'Lucky Mouse', are selling for HK$160. Balloons and accessories with Mickey Mouse silhouettes are selling for between HK$10 and HK$48 to celebrate the Year of the Rat. The word for rat and mouse is the same in Chinese.

Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury Chan Ka-keung visited the stalls in Victoria Park yesterday in support of a business training programme organised by the Hong Kong Federation of Youth.