Thousands took to the streets to demand tighter monitoring of care homes for the disabled in light of the case of a former director of one such center who was alleged to have had unlawful sex with a female resident but went unpunished.
More than 20 social welfare organizations, persons with disabilities and their parents, and pan-democratic members of the Legislative Council joined the protest outside the government headquarters on Sunday, calling for a revamp of the laws governing the operation of care homes in the city, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
The Social Welfare Department has decided to revoke the permit to operate of the Bridge of Rehabilitation after it failed to meet requirements, but the government insisted the decision had nothing to do with the sex scandal.
Prosecutors had dropped the case against Cheung Kin-wah, former director of the Bridge of Rehabilitation, noting that his alleged victim was unfit to testify.
The protesters, wearing purple ribbons on their wrists, marched from Statue Square in Centralto the government headquarters in Admiralty.
They said loopholes in the law might have allowed people like the former director of the Bridge of Rehabilitation to go scot-free after inflicting harm on the disabled, am730 reported.
One of the organizers, Democratic Party lawmaker Roy Kwong Chun-yu, started a petition seeking to amend social welfare laws to better protect the disabled.
The peition has so far gathered more than 100,000 signatures.
No government officials came to receive the petition letter, prompting protest leaders to burn the document.
Organizers said more than 2,000 took part in the protest, while the police said there were around 1,000 people at its peak.
Secretary for Labour and Welfare Matthew Cheung Kin-chung pledged to step up inspections of the 251 homes with provisional licenses, hoping they will all be up to par within three years.
The government will also work to increase places in rehabilitation homes, including rebuilding the former Siu Lam Hospital to become the city’s biggest rehabilitation center for the disabled, Cheung said.
It also hopes to turn three unused school campuses into rehabilitation centers.
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