19 April 2019
Lau's widow holds a sign saying "No license, can't do business" at Theatre Lane in Central. Photo: HKEJ
Lau's widow holds a sign saying "No license, can't do business" at Theatre Lane in Central. Photo: HKEJ

Shoe shiner’s widow keen to inherit his license

The widow of a shoe shiner surnamed Lau has appealed against the rejection by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) of her application to inherit her husband’s shoe shiner license.

Lau was one of only eight licensed shoe shiners before he died in January from ill health.

His widow has since made an application to inherit the licence but was told her attempt was unsuccessful, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported Friday.

Democratic Party district councillor Ted Hui Chi-fung, who has been assisting the woman, said the government’s shoe shiner licensing system is flawed.

Hui said the FEHD should instead expedite the awarding of license to Lau’s widow, as part of an effort to promote specialty local industries.

He said the FEHD rejected a similar application by the widow of another licensed shoe shiner who died in 2011, but she won in a subsequent appeal.

Hui said the two cases are 90 percent the same, and the FEHD is using double standards in licence renewals.

Lau’s widow said she had been helping her late husband as an assistant before his death, and she could not get another job given her education level and could not stand for an extended period of time because of a leg problem.

“We only get HK$40 for each shoe shine, and about HK$6,000 to HK$7,000 a month,” she said.

“It is not a lot, but at least we don’t have to turn to the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance scheme.”

In 2009, the government issued licenses to eight shoe shiners, most of whom work in Theatre Lane in Central.

The results of the appeal could be announced as soon as Friday, sources suggested.

Meanwhile, the FEHD said there are two vacant shoe shiner licenses open for applications by members of the public.

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