Small-scale sellers need protection

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 November, 2011, 12:00am


A stationery shop in Choi Hung estate has been fined HK$9,000 for selling airplane chess sets that were considered dangerous. The supplier of the games was fined hundreds of thousands of dollars.

These people were penalised because the chess 'boards' were very thin. They were so thin that if a child were to place them over their face, they could suffocate. It is understandable that the government wants to protect children from harm.

Yet I think this punishment is unreasonable. The chess sets were only sold for HK$4. So it will really harm the seller to have to pay a big fine. No one wants to see micro-enterprises being hurt. We ought to change the law.

Chan Sing-leong, STFA Tam Pak Yu College

From the Editor

Thank you for your letter, Sing-leong. A punishment, in this case a fine, is set by the court, not the law, and may be hard for a person to accept. For instance, a poor person might receive a fine of only HK$100, while that would not be any punishment at all for a wealthy person, so they might have to pay more. So unless we know how well off the seller was in this case, it is hard to judge.

In this case, however, it is quite difficult to see how such an item would pose a danger. Kids who play this game are usually in primary school and have gone past the stage of inhaling things.

It might raise the issue that younger children, not involved in the game, might inhale it.

Safety rules are usually put into place after a lot of thought. Hong Kong prides itself on being a city where trade is free. Getting the balance between safety and freedom is not easy, and often open for debate. Let's see what other readers think.

Susan, Editor