Arrested for selling HK$1 cardboard? Group rallies behind elderly Hong Kong woman

The 75-year-old woman said she was released on HK$30 bail with only HK$34 in her purse

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 June, 2017, 10:06pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 June, 2017, 10:58pm

Some 30 Hongkongers staged a protest on Sunday against the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department after it charged a 75-year-old woman for selling cardboard without a hawker licence.

The elderly woman, surnamed Chu, had sold a piece of cardboard she collected to a domestic helper in Central for HK$1 last Sunday. She was then approached by six department officers and later charged.

Chu was subsequently taken to the department office and the police station. She said she was released on bail for HK$30, with only HK$34 in her purse.

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A man who initiated the protest but would only give his surname as Au, said: “The behaviour of the officers is beyond cold-blooded.” The group gathered at the Central and Western District Environmental Hygiene Office on Sunday.

“We urge the department to drop the charges, return the cart it confiscated from Chu and stop all these actions targeting grass-roots workers.”

Lawmaker Eddie Chu Hoi-dick, who also joined the protest, said a lot of elderly people had been trying to make a living by collecting recyclable items such as cardboards.

He slammed the government for pouring money into overbudgeted infrastructure projects instead of helping those living in poverty.

Civic Party Eastern District councillor Lai Chi-keong, who exposed the saga last week after the woman sought help from him, said she had refused to apply for Comprehensive Social Security Assistance because she did not want to rely on others.

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She suffers from rheumatoid arthritis and gastritis, and had turned down donation and assistance offered by many after the incident came to light, he added.

Outgoing food and health minister Dr Ko Wing-man said the government would try its best to ensure every department would enforce the law in a reasonable and considerate manner.

The administration would cooperate with the court regarding the case which had entered legal proceedings, he added.

The elderly woman is set to appear in court on Wednesday.

Last year, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department also sparked anger after its officers issued a HK$1,500 fine to a 71-year-old cleaner for allegedly dumping water on a street in Wan Chai.

A photo of the cleaner bursting into tears after receiving her ticket was widely circulated online. Authorities later withdrew the fine.