Legislator Yiu Si-wing, who is also a director at China Travel Service (Hong Kong) Ltd., said the recent protest against mainland parallel traders in Sheung Shui was part of efforts by some people to solicit voters’ support in the upcoming District Council elections.
Yiu, who represents the tourism sector in the Legislative Council, said in a radio program on Monday that he felt it was strange that anti-parallel trading protests re-emerged in the past few days even though the government is addressing the problem through tighter customs inspections and a plan to build a shopping facility at the border.
Yiu said the protests were hurting the local tourism industry.
But Ronald Leung Kam-shing, a spokesman for the North District Parallel Imports Concern Group, disagreed with Yiu’s comments, noting that such protests have been going on for the past three years.
Leung said it was laughable that someone would think the protests were related to the elections. He said those who are saying so are simply trying to discredit legitimate protest.
Legislator Vincent Fang Kang said the wholesale and retail sector which he represents is going through a difficult period that is worse than the situation during the SARS outbreak in 2003.
He blames declining retail sales in the city on protests targeting mainland visitors and shoppers.
According to the Census and Statistics Department, retail sales for the first seven months this year dropped 1.7 percent from a year ago, but plummeted 6.1 percent during the same period in 2003, when Hong Kong was hit by SARS.
Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing refused to speculate on whether the protests were related to the District Council elections, but stressed that such mass actions would not help any election campaign.
Leung said it was Yiu who was taking an overly political perspective on the protests, which should not be regarded as part of an election campaign.
Meanwhile, the Federation of Hong Kong Trade Unions in Tourism issued a statement blasting the anti-parallel trading protesters for being “uncivilized” and hurting the interest of the local tourism sector.
The union said it feared such protests would lead to more layoffs in the industry.
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