Hui defends 'lazy' traffic wardens
HONG KONG'S police chief yesterday sprang to the defence of local traffic wardens, who were branded lazy and incompetent in a recent report on wasteful government spending.
Police Commissioner Eddie Hui Ki-on dismissed Director of Audit Brian Jenney's criticisms as 'unfair', and said there was little support for his proposal to set a quota for issuing fixed parking tickets.
Instead Mr Hui offered to shoulder the blame for the wardens' failure to issue more tickets.
'If you have to criticise, it should be my policy that is criticised rather than the wardens,' he told yesterday's Legislative Council's Public Accounts Committee.
He said only seven per cent of fixed tickets were issued for overstaying at parking meters, while the wardens' main duty was traffic management and road safety.
In a fiery defence of their work, Mr Hui said wardens would also soon be given extra duties. They would be given the authority to ask for an offending driver's identity, and share half the traffic police's duties.
But legislators were not satisfied. Independent Simon Ip Sik-on criticised the wardens for selectively handing out tickets rather than strictly enforcing the law.
Mr Hui admitted limited resources meant priority was given to obstruction causing danger to the public.
He also conceded wardens worked much harder while under scrutiny. Mr Jenney's report found they issued up to three times as many tickets on the days when they were accompanied by members of his audit team.
But he rejected Mr Jenney's allegation that the wardens failed to take over work from the police, saying there were just 314 wardens compared with 10,000 constables.
Mr Hui refused to set a quota on the number of tickets that should be handed out daily by wardens, as suggested by the audit report.
'The wardens could meet the target easily, but I think it's difficult for members of the public to accept the proposal.'