Two government-licensed Mong Kok hawkers applied for legal aid yesterday to challenge eviction notices filed by Law Kar-po, son of late Bossini chain founder Law Ting-pong.
News-stand vendor Tam Kwok and fixed-pitch stall owner Law Hop-ngan, who are fighting for their decades-old pitches in Bute Street, visited the government offices in Admiralty to make their applications.
'We need to appear before court in 14 days after receiving the letter, so hopefully this will buy us some time and get us the needed finances,' Tam said.
They are backed by the Coalition of Hong Kong Newspaper and Magazine Merchants amid fears that if their evictions go ahead, any hawker, licensed or otherwise, could be similarly driven from their work locations.
Coalition chairman Liu Sair-ching and eight other news-stand owners accompanied the pair to the Legal Aid Department. 'If [Tam] and [Law] are forced to move, then there is a possibility that all newspaper stall operators in Hong Kong can get evicted,' Liu said.
Even though Law - who sells bags and suitcases - did not operate a news-stand, the coalition decided to support her because she was facing the same 'unfair treatment', he said.
While talking to the group, the 79-year-old Law became emotional and felt unwell. She was taken by ambulance to Queen Mary Hospital in Pok Fu Lam and kept there overnight for observation of her heart condition.
Great Hunter, a company owned by Law Kar-po, filed writs last week claiming damages for private nuisance and injunctions restraining Tam and Law from obstructing its property in Bute Street. It bought the ground-floor property in 2009.
The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, which issues and renews hawker licences, has confirmed the validity of the two licences but refused to comment further.
'It is not appropriate for this department to provide any comments on the case' because 'legal proceedings have been commenced', it said.
Liu said the pair should not be receiving letters of eviction as they had been operating with legal and valid hawker licenses issued by the government. He said he would try set up a meeting with government officials to seek an explanation.