TOURISM

'Toddler-gate': protesters target minister's home with mock defecation

Protesters pretend to defecate outside So's house in latest demonstration

PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 May, 2014, 5:01am
UPDATED : Monday, 05 May, 2014, 5:01am

Protesters pretended to defecate and urinate outside the home of secretary for commerce and economic development Greg So Kam-leung yesterday.

About a dozen protesters gathered on MacDonnell Road, Mid-Levels, with placards saying "tolerate equals condone" and chanting slogans such as "tolerate me" in the latest demonstration against a pair of mainland parents who allowed their toddler to relieve himself in a Mong Kok street.

The protest was a response to a suggestion by So following the incident that Hongkongers "make allowances" for mainlanders. So later clarified his remarks saying he meant to ask Hongkongers to show respect and help educate mainlanders.

The actions of the toddler's parents sparked a furore after footage taken by a Hongkonger went viral. While many Hongkongers condemned the parents' actions, some on the mainland - including state media - were critical of those who documented such incidents.

So said yesterday he respected Hongkongers' freedom of expression and the government would "investigate possible solutions with the tourism industry to tackle the problem". He also hoped protesters could "spend time and effort on issues that are more constructive".

Meanwhile, the growth in the number of mainland visitors to the city for the Labour Day holiday appeared sluggish, statistics from the immigration department showed.

There were 387,000 mainlanders visiting Hong Kong during the first three days of the holiday this year, compared to 385,000 last year.

Joseph Tung Yao-chung, executive director of the Travel Industry Council, said that lingering anti-mainlander sentiment could adversely affect the number of visitors for upcoming mainland holidays such as the National Day golden week in October.

In a separate development, state broadcaster CCTV reported that some unscrupulous travel agencies in Shenzhen and Zhuhai had helped mainlanders get counterfeit visas or air tickets to travel to Hong Kong, exploiting the seven-day permit-free period for mainlanders in transit. Mainland authorities have tightened the issuing of entry permits to Hong Kong and Macau.

The Immigration Department said officers would refuse entry or repatriate any visitor who did not comply with the immigration guidelines.