Legislative Council of Hong Kong

Being a lawmaker not a pass to ignore rules

The saga of Hong Kong lawmaker Ma Fung-kwok making airport staff bend the rules to allow him to bring a near empty tube of hair gel onto a plane has raised concerns that he had abused his status. Politicians must be more mindful of their conduct and behaviour

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 27 May, 2018, 7:35am
UPDATED : Sunday, 27 May, 2018, 7:35am

It is just common knowledge that air passengers are banned from carrying liquids and gels of certain size in their cabin bags. And when confronted by airport staff for such items, most would just throw them away.

It is therefore baffling when a Hong Kong lawmaker made the airport staff bend the rules to let him bring a big but near empty tube of hair gel on board, raising concerns whether he had abused his status and connections.

Ma Fung-kwok rejected the accusations, but admitted that he might have mentioned the head of the Airport Authority, Lam Tin-fuk, when questioning the seniority of the personnel handling the row. He conceded that he might also have said that it was a lawmaker’s duty to care about aviation safety.

The representative for sports, culture and media was quoted as saying that he was merely fighting for his right as a passenger, arguing that even though the volume of the tube had exceeded the 100ml for carry-on items, the gel inside was less than the threshold.

But he later said he was willing to apologise for the inconvenience caused to the security staff, who are facing a disciplinary review for letting Ma through after a dispute.

The saga has, unsurprisingly, gone viral in the social media, with many making fun of Ma’s hairstyle. We do not intend to question the importance of the gel to the lawmaker. We also do not know whether this is the first time Ma has been stopped for such items. But it is unthinkable that a seasoned traveller can be so ignorant of the rules.

Pro-Beijing Hong Kong legislator Ma Fung-kwok accused of abusing position in row with airport security over hair gel in carry-on bag

This is not the first time the rich and famous has been caught in rows over airport security screening. Being a lawmaker does not give Ma the right to bypass aviation security rules. Like other travellers, he is required to go through stringent checks that apply to all equally.

Under Article 18 of the Airport Authority by-law, no person shall wilfully obstruct any authorised officer in the execution of their duty without lawful authority or reasonable excuse. It is regrettable that the officers concerned are facing disciplinary review. It would seem unreasonable if they are punished while Ma is let off the hook. The case must be handled in a fair manner.

Politicians must be more mindful of their conduct and behaviour. The saga, widely reported and read by our readers abroad, has given Hong Kong a bad name.