Date
20 September 2017
Yeung Tsz-hei (inset) was reported as saying that people sleeping on Ferry Street must have found something fun and beneficial in doing so. Street sleepers came to his office to protest.  Photo: Facebook
Yeung Tsz-hei (inset) was reported as saying that people sleeping on Ferry Street must have found something fun and beneficial in doing so. Street sleepers came to his office to protest. Photo: Facebook

Street sleepers protest over DAB district councillor’s remarks

A group of street sleepers staged a protest outside the office of Yau Tsim Mong District Councillor Benny Yeung Tsz-hei (楊子熙) after he proposed to evict them from their space underneath a flyover on Ferry Street.

Yeung, who is from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, made the proposal during a meeting of the district council on Tuesday, Apple Daily reported.

He reportedly said people must have found something fun and beneficial in sleeping in the streets.

After the protest, Yeung said he is only concerned with the safety of street sleepers and hopes the Social Welfare Department could find them a safer accommodation.

He also cited the need to restore public spaces in the community.

Wong Nai-yuen, an officer of Street Sleepers Action Committee (SSAC), a charitable organization seeking to promote the welfare of street sleepers, said he has collected nearly a hundred signatures from street sleepers in the district to protest Yeung’s stance against them.

However, police officers ransacked the street sleepers’ “homes” at around 11 a.m. on Wednesday after learning of their plan to stage a protest, Wong said.

He said many of the street sleepers did not join the protest for fear that they might be targeted by the police.

They had heard that police suspected rampant drug possession and use along Ferry Street. 

A 35-year-old street sleeper who calls himself Fatty said police officers stormed their place on Wednesday in search of illegal drugs.

Fatty, who has been homeless for nearly six years now, admitted that some of the street sleepers were hooked on drugs, but he said the police raid was clearly an attempt to scare them off.

He also rebuked Yeung for his sarcastic remarks. “Who would want to sleep in the streets if you could live in a proper place?” he asked.

Volunteer Kong Ho-man, 33, who was once a street sleeper, said the government has been tightening its grip on street sleepers over the past 10 years.

“They would throw away their belongings when the cold weather warning signal was in force and would spray sanitizing powder inside the tunnel at Nam Cheong Estate,” Kong said.

“They also clean a streetside shelter in Sham Shui Po six times a day because it is frequented by homeless people. However, no one bothers to clean up the park and other community facilities.”

According to Kong, police officers are never friendly towards homeless people. “They are like licensed gangsters,” he said.

“I have seen police officers waking up street sleepers with their batons or kicking them with their boots, they could even beat people up in the back alleys.”

Volunteers from SSAC said they have seen cases where the belongings of homeless people were thrown away for no apparent reason.

Meanwhile, staff from the Home Affairs Department reportedly stopped a group of volunteers distributing gifts to homeless people at a temporary shelter amid the cold weather.

The staff called the police for assistance, noting that the shelter is a private place.

In the end, the volunteers were allowed to distribute their presents.

Campaign leader Benson Tsang said the asylum staff were being unreasonable as anyone is entitled to use the temporary shelter.

“Would you need to register with your ID card before entering a park?” Tsang asked.

– Contact us at [email protected]

EL/JP/CG

EJI Weekly Newsletter

Please click here to unsubscribe