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H7N9 avian flu
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H7N9 Bird Flu

Leung Chun-ying under fire for urging Hongkongers to stop buying live chicken

Chief executive accused of being insensitive to farmers who are counting the cost of cull and ban on live sales after latest bird flu scare

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 January, 2014, 1:43pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 January, 2014, 3:37pm

Lawmakers accused Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying of being insensitive to stricken chicken farmers by urging Hongkongers to consider ending their tradition of buying live poultry for cooking.

At a special meeting of the Legislative Council on Wednesday morning, legislators said Leung had “picked the wrong time” to make his comments as farmers counted the cost of Tuesday’s cull of 20,000 birds and a three-week ban on live sales that will cover the usually lucrative Lunar New Year holiday.

The cull was ordered after an imported chicken from the mainland was found to be carrying the H7N9 bird flu virus on Monday.

Watch: Hong Kong culls 20,000 chickens after H7N9 found

On Tuesday, Leung asked Hongkongers to consider whether their tradition of buying live chicken at wet markets should be continued.

Among those to criticise Leung was Steven Ho Chun-yin, who represents the agriculture and fisheries sector in Legco.

“The government should first offer a proper compensation for local chicken farmers,” Ho said.

Other lawmakers urged the government to review rules on live poultry imports from the mainland, given that the risk of bird flu was clearly coming from across the border.

But Secretary for Food and Health Dr Ko Wing-man insisted it was necessary to consider the matter of live sales as the city once again faced the threat of bird flu.

“If the threat is not imminent, people will ask why we are telling people to consider this question [of whether to stop selling live chicken]. So it is time to tell the public to consider it,” Ko said. “But it is true that this is not the most urgent thing to be handled or decided right now.”

He said the government might appoint consultants to consider the issue in the long term.

He also said the government would talk to local farmers about whether they could supply enough poultry to meet demand in the city without imports from the mainland.

At the meeting, lawmakers passed a non-binding motion urging the government to keep birds imported from the mainland separate from local birds until test results were available.

They also urged the Food and Health Bureau to properly compensate local farmers, who had prepared at least 300,000 live chickens for the Lunar New Year sales peak.

Ko said the bureau was still working out the details of compensation.

Mainland officials had so far taken more than 200 samples from farms that import chickens to Hong Kong, but none had tested positive, Ko said.


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This article is now closed to comments

u hv to bear the risk if you are selling chicken. every business has its own risk. why we need to use public money to compensate them?
but i think the government can give some ALLOWANCE to them, as a special arrangement to aid the farmers. but it will never be compensation, compensation for what?
The culling of chicken en masse is due to the mismanagement of live chickens. Failing in inspections at breeding ground in mainland and mixing locals with the imports. That is settling not to central slaughtering in Hong Kong even the facility for it I believe is already here. The government is lack of political courage to implement what common sense should prevail. What stops the government? For the few live chicken venders? The Chinese customers? Or just plain laziness to take up the leadership. Or just the plain preference for the taste of life chickens even for the officials. Culling every time when become out of control inevitably is immoral. The insensitivity to life of our behavior is too high a price to trade for a better taste.
I will advise CY Leung to ban selling live chcikens (not buying) in Hong Kong.
Make a trip to Shenzhen when it lasts if the urge persists.
Chicken's aren't even grown in Hong Kong. They're raised in China and shipped here just long enough to declare them as local products, and then sold off as local.
If chickens were honestly and truly raised from egg to full grown chicken in Hong Kong, then they can should be identified as such. I'll even buy local over imported. But too bad they're not.


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