A restaurant that is famous for giving free meals to the homeless and elderly has been ordered by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) to suspend business operations for 14 days.
The government agency’s move is likely to raise another public outcry following its recent controversial actions penalizing poor and underprivileged people for minor infractions of ordinances.
The FEHD said in a press release on Wednesday that Pei Ho Barbecue Restaurant, on Pei Ho Street in Sham Shui Po, failed to store open food properly in violation of the Food Business Regulation.
Calling the restaurant a repeat offender as it had been fined several times in 2015 and 2016 for the same offense, the FEHD decided to suspend its license until July 11.
The move is likely to affect thousands of poor people who depend on the restaurant’s cheap or free food for their daily sustenance.
Chan Cheuk-ming, who owns the restaurant, said the FEHD order would cost him at least HK$100,000 in business losses.
But he said what concerns him most is that many poor people who rely on his restaurant for their meals will have to pay more in other outlets in the next two weeks, Apple Daily reported.
Chan, also known as Ming Gor or Brother Ming, said he has no choice but to abide by the suspension order.
He said he is not blaming the FEHD for enforcing the law because its job is to manage hygiene and social order in the community.
“I did not [store the food] well enough. I will reflect on myself,” Chan said, adding that the suspension order was not against him personally.
Benson Tsang, who has been collaborating with Chan in distributing meal vouchers to the underprivileged so they can enjoy free meals at Chan’s restaurant, criticized the FEHD for not exercising discretion when making its decision.
Chan did not deserve such a treatment, considering that he was simply trying to help poor people, Tsang said.
He said the department’s relentless law enforcement may discourage some people from doing good deeds.
Two weeks ago, the FHED charged a 75-year-old woman who sold cardboard scraps for a living with illegal hawking, only to drop the charge last week after being slammed for excessive law enforcement without regard for her poverty and old age.
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