District councillors criticised Victoria Park managers for going easy on illegal hawkers and called for a crackdown on the vendors, most of them domestic helpers. Simon Liu Wai-shing, Eastern District leisure manager for the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, came under fire after telling councillors the department had been lenient in issuing summonses for illegal hawking because of the economic woes caused by Sars. A summons means a fine of between $400 and $1,000. 'How could the department use the poor economy to justify tolerance of illegal hawking? Domestic helpers are paid by Hong Kong people to do housework and they are subject to the immigration law,' Tsang Kin-shing said. He complained that domestic helpers were paid to give haircuts and manicures in the park. Lau Hing-tat raised the spectre of people being trampled by domestic workers trying to flee police raids. 'Victoria Park is supposed to be a place for leisure. I would imagine elderly people and children would be at risk when the domestic workers are escaping arrest,' he said. Jennifer Chow Kit-bing said tolerance would only encourage more hawking. It was not only illegal but made the park an eyesore, she said. The council's committee passed a motion calling on the Immigration Department to assist operations by police, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department and the Leisure and Cultural Services Department staff. Domestic workers who engaged in hawking breached their conditions of stay, the motion noted. On Sunday, immigration officers raided Victoria Park and arrested a Hong Kong resident for encouraging maids to take up illegal employment. Also arrested were 11 domestic helpers from Indonesia. Mr Liu told the committee 102 summonses had been issued in connection with illegal hawking in the park last year and 68 so far this year. He said 90 per cent of the cases involved foreigners.