Parents split on whether, and how, to ban sex offenders

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 15 March, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 15 March, 2009, 12:00am

Families on the Laguna Verde estate are split over whether residents convicted of sex crimes should be barred from its public facilities.

Some said a ban was necessary to protect children - even if it might be difficult to enforce. Others said such people could be given restricted access.

Yet others asked why prisoners who had served their time should not be treated the same as anyone else.

Vivien Tsai, a mother of children aged four and seven, said estate managers would find it difficult to ban such a person from the facilities.

'As residents, sex offenders ... have the right to enter the clubhouse. They are residents and they pay the fees,' she said. The management committee could display photos of convicted abusers to help residents recognise them.

Sarah Leung, who has a daughter, 10, and a son, eight, said it should not be assumed that released prisoners would reoffend.

'This man has served his sentence. We should give him a chance to live a new life,' she said.

Her husband said the management committee should step up security to avoid incidents such as the one two years ago, which led to resident Yik Seal-hung's conviction and imprisonment for molesting a boy, 12.

GiGi Tung, whose daughters, aged four and six, regularly use the clubhouse where the sexual assault occurred, said there was little within the law that the management team could do to restrict the activities of potential child abusers.

Ms Tung, who has lived on the estate for nine years, said the government should consider introducing laws to ensure the psychological state of sex abusers was monitored closely following their release from prison.

'I am concerned about the psychological condition of abusers. If they are proved to be mentally fit, they should have the same rights to use the facilities as other people. But not unless they meet this condition,' she said.

Another resident said the estate's managers had not told residents about sex crimes on the estate.

A six-year resident, Erica Lam, said announcements should be made to ensure parents and children remained alert. Although it was impractical to ban sex offenders from the clubhouse, the management committee should restrict them to public areas monitored by surveillance cameras, she said.

'It's fine to let him use facilities such as the gym and the reading areas. But he should not be allowed in places such as bathrooms and changing rooms because they are difficult to monitor.'