Banners have no place on Hong Kong's streets

PUBLISHED : Monday, 01 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 01 April, 2013, 3:00am


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Bernard Chan in his letter ("Banners offend locals and visitors", March 19), asked why we continue to suffer from the visual pollution of hundreds of banners hung at various key points in the city by the Hong Kong Youth Care Association and the Falun Gong.

These banners are of an offensive nature and have no place on the streets of a city that is a commercial and financial centre with large numbers of business and tourist visitors.

He may be interested to know that the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department set up a task force some months ago to deal with this menace.

Like residents in Tsim Sha Tsui, one of the target areas, he could ask how much this task force is costing us and what is it doing.

The Lands Department from the offset declared that the banners are illegally hung but that the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department is tasked with the duty of removing illegal banners, billing for removal charges and prosecuting repeat offenders.

However this department keeps bleating that the two groups want to make their views known. I received yet another message to this effect a few days ago. The department advised it had contacted both groups on the matter.

I am engaged in a number of environmental and social movements and all of them would love to have the opportunity to promote their message. However I am sure that as soon as we hung a banner we would be obliged to remove it.

In fact, the department website talks about daily inspection and removal of illegally hung banners.

We are not talking here about the sporadic banner hanging affiliated with various incidents, such as excursions to the Diaoyu Islands, but a systematic and daily assault on our senses.

As Mr Chan points out, freedom of speech is respected but a monopoly on public spaces cannot be tolerated.

Could Secretary for Food and Health Dr Ko Wing-man let taxpayers know why he tolerates the inability of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department to deal with a simple matter like illegal banners?

All officers have to do is cut them down, take them away and prosecute further offences. If they cannot handle this task then contract it out and sack the task force.

Taxpayers want an end to this pussyfooting around over an activity that is bringing no added value to our streets.

Mary Melville, Tsim Sha Tsui