Fried squid lecturer fined in hawker fight

Local | Flora Chung 21 Jun 2016

A university lecturer was yesterday fined HK$1,800 and had her hawking gear confiscated for illegally selling skewered fried squid in the street on Lunar New Year's eve.

Appearing at Kowloon City Court, Lau Siu-lai, nicknamed "Teacher Siu Lai," of Polytechnic University's communication and social sciences department, had said she did so to "protect hawkers' rights."

She was convicted on three counts - obstruction of a public space, hawking without a license and cooking food for the purpose of hawking without a license.

Lau, 40, was accused by two officers from the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department of selling fried squid on Kweilin Street, Sham Shui Po, on February 7. She pleaded not guilty last month.

Deputy magistrate Leung Ka-kie said the two witnesses saw Lau selling fried squid on the street and heard her saying "10 dollars per skewer." They also saw Lau holding a frying pan to heat up the squid, and that a male passerby paid HK$10 to buy one skewer.

Leung said there was no contradiction in the two officers' testimonies, describing them as "honest and reliable witnesses."

While Lau's stall took up 0.72 square meters in a restricted parking area on a six-meter wide road, she argued that what she did fell short of the commission of an obstruction as there was a fire truck, a lorry and a van from the FEHD parked on the street that day, adding the vehicles were more obstructive than her wooden trolley.

But Leung said the three were government vehicles and were on duty. Lau's trolley was in an area "for emergency use only."

Leung said although no one complained about the obstruction, it didn't mean that the way Lau placed her trolley was acceptable.

Lau was not legally represented and did not plead for leniency.

Lau opposed the prosecution's request to confiscate all of her equipment and ingredients through the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance.

She said she will consider lodging an appeal and will continue to sell food on the street and speak for the hawkers.

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