Toronto targets HK road-racers

HONGKONG students have been targetted in a new police crackdown against illegal road-racing in Toronto.

Officers believe a new road-racing season is imminent despite accidents this year which left two Hongkong students dead and a third in a coma.

Hongkong teenagers are seen as a major problem and cause of the illegal high-speed car races in the suburb of Scarborough.

Police said teenagers studying in Canada, as well as children of recent Hongkong immigrants, were committing many traffic offences, ranging from jumping red lights to speeding and failing to stop.

Sergeant Lorne Firlotte, of the Metropolitan Toronto Police, said: ''I caught a fellow driving a brand new Honda at the speed of 120km/h in a 60km/h zone without a licence.

''I charged him with speeding and driving without a licence. But 10 minutes later, another officer spotted him driving again.

''You can keep charging them, but the truth is that lots of them don't care.'' Earlier this year the Canadian authorities promised to come down hard on the culprits.

In a typical meeting, groups of teenagers gather in doughnut shops before racing each other in their sporty Japanese-made cars, harassing other drivers and enticing police into a chase.

Police have seen as many as 20 cars driven by young Orientals racing through Scarborough streets late at night.

Two Hongkong students were burned to death in a car smash this year while another has been in a coma for two months since a Valentine's Day crash.

Last year, 17-year-old Jonathan Chong Yuen-yu was decapitated after being hurled from a car when the driver lost control.

One of Jonathan's friends said she did not feel guilty about road-racing, but had changed her attitude since his death.

Miss Emily Mok said: ''We enjoyed every moment of racing our cars on the road.

''One time we were racing our car on the city road. A bus driver saw us and tried to stop us from driving so fast, but we did not care. We drove even faster and passed him.

''We have become more considerate, thinking of the safety of ourselves and people on the streets.'' The teenagers appear to have plenty of money. Sergeant Firlotte remembers catching a 19-year-old drunk driver who was a student living alone in a big house with no part-time job but owned a new car worth C$20,000 (HK$122,000).

A teacher at Scarborough Christian School where almost all students are from Hongkong, Mr Michael Peacock, said he would not be surprised if his students were involved in road-racing.

Teenagers away from their family's supervision and with plenty of money were likely to go wild, he said.

He criticised Hongkong parents for sending their children so far away by themselves.

But the chairman of the Chinese-Canadian Association of Hongkong, Mr Kenny Tang, said parents were full of good intentions.

While some youngsters might find problems in being away from home for the first time, most did very well, he said.

A divorced father whose 17-year-old son is at a Toronto school said he believes he is doing the right thing.

''I sometimes feel guilty because I am not with him, but this is a chance for him to grow up and be on his own,'' the Hongkong businessman said. ''If he messes up, then it is his own fault.''