• Tue
  • Dec 23, 2014
  • Updated: 8:11am

Unwelcome banners in Tsim Sha Tsui

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 06 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 06 January, 2013, 2:51am

I refer to the report ("Unwrap HK history this Christmas", December 24).

Despite a growing interest in local heritage, I am sure many people in Tsim Sha Tsui were unaware that 11 heritage sites were being opened to the public as part of "Heritage Fiesta 2012", and would have missed the opportunity to visit them.

This is because for the past two months residents of Yau Tsim Mong district have been denied information on this and other community initiatives.

Instead of the usual community-focused banners providing details on all manner of taxpayer-funded events such as forums, carnivals, concerts and district council meetings, every railing in our district has been hung with anti-Falun Gong banners. In the run-up to the festive season there was not a single banner giving tourists information about the traditional calendar of events.

Despite repeated complaints to the Lands and Food and Environmental Hygiene departments and even the police, hundreds of these unauthorised banners were allowed to occupy all designated banner spots and other non-designated spots where hanging posters pose a danger to pedestrians and drivers as crucial sightlines at some of the most busy junctions in Kowloon have been blocked.

The Lands Department said it had not given approval for the banners and it was the responsibility of food and environmental hygiene officials to remove them. Police can step in when road safety becomes an issue. They removed a few banners at one location, when a traffic light at the junction of Nathan and Granville roads was knocked down. Otherwise, they have done nothing.

The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department website states that it "is an offence to display bills and posters in any streets or public places" without its permission and that of the Lands Department and that its staff will remove unauthorised material and "take out prosecution action against any person found responsible for placing such posters".

The department is not doing its job and is depriving residents and tourists of information on many of the taxpayer-funded services they have a right to enjoy.

Also, pedestrians in the district are at risk because of blocked sightlines for traffic at junctions.

Director of food and environmental hygiene Clement Leung Cheuk-man should step down over this failure to act by his department, and the chief executive must review the operations of the department.

Paul Kumar, member, Tsim Sha Tsui Residents' Concern Group


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This article is now closed to comments

captam, an unqualified barrack room lawyer, was recently approached by a 'g weilo', who returning home in the early hours, admittedly a little worse for wear after a night out in Wanchai, stumbled over one these bill-boards obstructing the pavement and might have 'accidentally' allowed his shoe to come into 'substantial contact' with the offending boards. An altercation ensued with a man standing nearby who claimed to be the owner of the allegedly "severely damaged" bill-boards. The police were called and the 'g ueilo' was arrested for suspected Criminal Damage and taken to TST police station, where he was detained for several hours before being released on bail. The unfortunate aspect of this case is that the 'suspect' genuinely believed that the obstructing billboards, which he had 'tripped over', were wretched 'Far Flung Dung' propaganda, but unable to read Chinese, he had inadvertently picked on the oppositions' cause. I proposed that he should ask a 'proper' lawyer whether it is a defence to a charge of criminal damage that the item, has little or no commercial value and is itself (1) an illegal posting and (2) an obstruction of the footpath which furthermore, the authorities have negligently declined to remove? There is under Common Law a right for a ‘good and upright citizen’ to take action (restitution) to remove an unlawful blockage of a public right of way, especially in such circumstances where the responsible authority has failed to fulfill its obligations.
Totally irrelevant comment.
It is relevant, because the unfortunate police "suspect" (actually a victim of frustration, like many other Tsim Sha Tsui and Kowloon residents) now faces a possible criminal conviction and record, all sparked by the administration's failure to enforce the law over the illegal posting of these banners and placards.
Paul, you highlight a troubling practical aspect of the sea of illegal plastic that currently blights TST and elsewhere.
Even more worrying is the challenge to Hong Kong’s special status under the Basic Law. If shadowy groups can brazenly desecrate swathes of public space with pro-Beijing propaganda, what remains of our cherished separate ‘system’? Legislators such as Fernando Cheung Chiu Hung and Long Hair Leung Kwok-hung have condemned the police’s inaction (see link below). The police say that only FEHD can remove the banners, with one frontline officer telling me that they’d like to get rid of them but “cannot”. FEHD admits it plans to do nothing about the matter (SCMP, 9 Dec 2012) but do we really believe that that is its own decision? There’s a chill wind blowing across Hong Kong.


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