A 58-year-old officer of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department was in critical condition after he tried to arrest an illegal hawker and was pushed to the ground during a clearing operation in Central on Sunday.
The officer surnamed Wu, a member of the FEHD Hawker Control Team, was said to be in coma and suffering from a brain edema after a confrontation with a group of vendors, one of whom pushed him and caused his head to hit the ground, am730 reported.
Police probers from the Central Regional Crime Unit said witnesses described the suspect as 35-40 years old, around 1.8 meters tall, bearded and of South Asian ethnicity. He was wearing a light blue shirt and dark blue trousers at the time.
A CCTV footage clearly shows what happened, and could identify the hawker who pushed Wu to the ground, the report said.
Secretary for Food and Environmental Hygiene Ko Wing-man visited Wu at the Queen Mary Hospital on Monday. He said the department is very much concerned about the safety of its frontline staff and is looking for ways to enhance their protection and safety.
Vivian Lau, Director of Food and Environmental Hygiene, said Hawker Control Team officers usually would not carry out their duties alone.
She said Wu was apparently trying to contact other frontline staff when the incident took place.
Wong Wah-hing, chairman of the hawker control team sub-union at the Government Frontline Employees’ Union, said there should at least be two staffers carrying out an operation.
Officers should wait for their backup and should never risk operating alone, Wong added.
Lawmaker Helena Wong, who sits on the Legislative Council’s Panel on Food and Environmental Affairs, said authorities should consider enhancing the safety training for frontline staff members and should seek police assistance in cases were there is a large number of hawkers.
Legislator Wong Kawok-hing, a member of the panel on hawker policies, suggested that authorities review their law enforcement measures. For example, Wong said, officers can take a video recording of the hawkers’ activities as evidence for prosecution and should avoid physical confrontation.
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