The Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) says it is suspending a crackdown against activities like smoking and hawking at hundreds of public spaces it manages – because it is not clear that it has the authority to enforce the bans.
The government has admitted that due to a major oversight, it can't enforce these rules at 450 venues across Hong Kong.
The problem stems from a legal technicality. Under the law, layout plans of public parks and other venues managed by the LCSD should be filed with the Land Registry, to give the department a solid legal footing to enforce these specific laws.
That's at least according to the Chinese wording of the law. But the English wording isn't so clear about this requirement.
The LCSD now admits that it hasn't filed the plans for 450 venues. But it says it hopes to correct this in three months' time. But until then, the department's hands are tied.
A spokesman said it has issued 29 smoking fines and 11 summonses against riding bicycles and removing plants over the past five years.
The LCSD said those affected should contact the department, but it did not specify if this was for them to seek redress.
The Tobacco Control Office said the LCSD had notified it about the enforcement problem at one specific park last August, but it was later told that further venues were affected.
Last updated: 2019-03-11 HKT 20:40