Fleeing sellers blamed for the low rate of pull-up stand arrests

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 March, 2011, 12:00am

Despite receiving more than 2,200 complaints about pull-up stands last year, only 105 people were prosecuted, government statistics show.

And the low figure was blamed yesterday on salespeople who flee, leaving their stands behind.

Pull-up stands are commonly seen in pedestrian areas - such as Mong Kok and Causeway Bay - for direct marketing of pay-TV and mobile phone services.

In October 2008, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department pledged to seize stands found blocking streets.

Last year, a total of 2,294 complaints were received, and more than 13,000 pull-up stands and similar materials were seized.

But only 105 people were prosecuted for displaying the stands and 64 for benefiting from the advertising displays. The data was revealed in the government's reply to a question from New People's Party lawmaker Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee yesterday.

Wong Wah-hing, chairman of the hawker control team sub-union at the Government Frontline Employees' Union, said many salespeople left the stands behind as they fled.

This resulted in a large number of stands being seized but few people being prosecuted. 'If we cannot see them displaying the stands, it is hard to prove them guilty,' he said.

Since March 1, people who display pull-up stands and cause an obstruction will be handed a fixed-penalty fine of HK$1,500.

Previously, offenders faced prosecution and fines of up to HK$10,000.

The Food and Environmental Hygiene department said warnings and widespread publicity were issued before the changes took effect.

Head cleaners and hawker control teams handle the unauthorised display of pull-up stands.