The government was on Thursday urged to introduce other forms of penalties and enhance education on top of a proposal to increase the fine for littering and illegal shop extensions, to achieve a stronger deterrent effect.
Authorities have proposed doubling the fine for littering to HK$3,000 and increasing penalties for illegal shop extensions and depositing construction waste unlawfully to HK$6,000 from HK$1,500.
Li Mei-siu, vice-chairwoman of the Hong Kong Food and Environmental Hygiene Department Staff Rights Union, said her frontline colleagues often face verbal insults or even physical attacks when they carry out prosecution.
She expressed worries that people’s resistance will be stronger when the cash penalties go up, adding that authorities can consider ordering offenders to take lessons on public hygiene.
“Don’t limit your thinking in just one direction. You should enhance publicity and education because this area is very inadequate. We can make reference to people who have committed dangerous driving. They have to take driving improvement courses. People who litter should not only be fined, but take lessons on public hygiene,” she told an RTHK radio programme.
For shops that violate the rule, Li said their businesses should be suspended, and that the suspension period should be based on their track record.
Meanwhile, DAB lawmaker Steven Ho said the government should also improve town planning, so shops or trucks do not have to occupy the road when they unload or organise goods.
He supported the fine increases, but said it has to come with more frequent inspection and law enforcement.
“If you don’t enforce, it is still just a toothless tiger,” he said.
Speaking on the same programme, Tai Po district council chairman, Patrick Mo, said the issue of shop extension is quite serious on some streets in the district.
He said some shops consider the fine as part of their operating cost, and he believes suspending their businesses for a day or two as punishment will be a stronger deterrence.