The government has dropped illegal hawking charges against a 75-year-old woman who sold cardboard scraps for a living.
The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) announced on Monday that it decided to drop the two charges against the woman, surnamed Chu, including street obstruction and illegal hawking, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
It said the decision was made after receiving opinions from the Department of Justice and considering her background. It did not say whether it will apologize.
Accompanied by Eastern district councilor Lai Chi-keong, who first revealed the incident last week, Chu said at a press conference that she appreciated the help from the media and the general public.
She said the fact that her case gained such a high public attention shows Hong Kong has a human touch.
It is believed that the FEHD will return the impounded trolley and cardboards to her, as well as the bail money.
Asked if the FEHD owed her an apology, Chu said it is not necessary as she is happy with the result.
Chu, who suffers from various illnesses and relies on collecting cardboards for a living, was arrested on June 11 after selling several scavenged cardboards she had collected in Central to a foreign domestic helper for HK$1.
The arrest sparked public anger and accusations of excessive law enforcement.
In response to the FEHD’s decision to drop the charges, Secretary for Food and Health Dr. Ko Wing-man promised to review the case and come up with clearer guidelines for frontline staff to make sure law enforcement puts human sentiment and ethics under consideration, Sing Tao Daily reported.
Ko said he understands the pressure faced by frontline staff in the process of law enforcement.
While many citizens are glad to see a happy ending, some FEHD officers are worried that the incident will only make it more difficult for them to enforce the law.
An unnamed officer told Ming Pao Daily that any arrest should be purely based on whether there is violation of the law instead of the background of an offender.
A former hawker control officer told Commercial Radio Hong Kong that there should be specific provisions or policies in black and white as to which offenders deserve lenient treatment.
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