League threatens legal action over T-shirts

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 February, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 February, 2010, 12:00am

The League of Social Democrats has threatened legal action if the customs department does not return 115 T-shirts, seized under the Trade Descriptions Ordinance, within a week.

The T-shirts mocking the league's rivals - the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong - were seized at the Lunar New Year fair in Victoria Park.

The league, through its solicitors, issued the ultimatum in a letter to the commissioner for customs and excise. The letter argues that the law cited by the officers to seize products was not applicable to the T-shirts, which are a political parody.

'Our client contends that the design ... has gained massive coverage and publicity both on internet forums and newspapers as a form of political parody, which makes it impossible to have misled any reasonable consumer,' the letter says. 'We demand them to [be returned] to our client in the next seven days. Failing that, we will judicially review your decision.'

The T-shirts feature the logo of the DAB with the Chinese characters for propriety, righteousness and integrity - three of the four major virtues in Chinese culture. The fourth is a sense of shame, and the absence of that character from the shirt was seen as a subtle way of saying the party 'has no shame'. A customs spokesman said investigations were continuing.