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