No cameras for Temple St after acid hits, police say

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 April, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 April, 2011, 12:00am


Police have ruled out placing surveillance cameras in the Temple Street night market after a series of acid attacks in the city, because the rooftops are too dark and the images would be worthless.

However, a district councillor described the decision as 'weird', saying there was some sort of 'subtle relationship' between hawkers and police in the area.

As many as 30 pedestrians, including several tourists, were injured by two bottles of corrosive liquid thrown into one of the city's top tourist spots in January last year.

A man was arrested but later released and the case, along with three others in Mong Kok, remains unsolved.

The five incidents occurred between 2008 and last year.

Yau Ma Tei divisional commander Steve Lam Chun-ming said 39 of the 87 buildings on the street had no gates, surveillance cameras, owners' corporations or security guards.

'When night comes, the rooftops of all these buildings are very dark. Even if 'sky eyes' are installed, they cannot capture what happens on the rooftops. So they won't be much help in gathering evidence,' Lam said.

This contradicts previous cases where cameras were installed after several acid attacks in Mong Kok and Causeway Bay.

Yau Tsim Mong district councillor Henry Chan Man-yau said Temple Street was a special area where many illicit activities thrived.

'Temple Street has its own order and people tend to solve problems by themselves,' Chan said.

He said hawkers who put their goods outside their designated areas, or those selling pirated goods, would not like cameras watching them.

But Lam said he had never heard this from traders. He said if surveillance cameras were installed in the street they would not be aimed at traders' areas.

Raymond Chan Kam-wing, the chairman of the Yaumatei Temple Street Association of Hawkers and Shop Operators, said sellers of pirated goods were not part of its membership.

Raymond Chan, who is also a member of the district's fight crime committee, said he supported the installation of cameras because of their deterrent effect.

'Some members opposed the move on human rights and privacy grounds,' he said.

The five acid attacks in Mong Kok, Yau Ma Tei and Causeway Bay have injured more than 100 people.

The Temple Street attack was the fifth with three cases in Sai Yeung Choi Street South, including one after cameras had been installed.

The police are still puzzled as to the identities of the offenders.

Last year, part-time Ocean Park performer Lo Ching-ho, 24, who threw drain cleaner on to Lockhart Road behind the Sogo department store in December two years ago, injuring six, was sentenced to 13 years in jail. Cameras were installed in the area after the incident.