Officials must not run off at mouth

Editorial | 4 Aug 2017

Exercising and drinking for fun is quite a creative idea that simply doesn't warrant having health minister Sophia Chan Siu-chee meddling.

It's alarming to hear her voice opposition to what's supposedly a carnival organized to encourage people who don't normally exercise to get on their feet and work up a sweat.

Is it necessary for Chan to intervene? Could she be over-reacting?

That's the problem. Whenever there's something contrary to general belief, there's always the tendency in some sectors of society to come up with all kinds of reasons to stomp all over it, to ensure it doesn't happen.

The event in question, "Beer Run," is being organized by RunOurCity, and due to take place in November. Runners - strictly speaking, joggers and walkers - will be offered a can of beer for every 400 meters of the 1,600-meter journey they manage to complete around the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal. Participants can finish - or quit halfway if they choose - at a pace suitable for them.

The rules couldn't be more lax.

However, Medical Association president Gabriel Choi Kin also strongly opposes the idea, saying the participants will be prone to injury if drinking and running at the same time. He even drew a parallel to impaired driving, saying it would be illegal to get behind the wheel after consuming four cans of beer.

I'm not impressed by Choi's remarks. Let's remember that it's all for fun, rather than a real race. He would have been absolutely correct to warn of the risk if it's to be a bona fide run. But then, even in a proper marathon where the participants don't drink alcohol, here are always injuries of some kind.

What annoys me most is the health chief deciding to get involved, and asking the organizer to cancel the event.

It would be a pity if a creative idea has to be given up due to the wielding of government power.

Instead of trying to quash the November event, what Chan should do is treat the event as a carnival rather than a serious running game. Maybe a lot of participants can't even finish the 1,600-meter journey, but that would be absolutely all right too.

What we're seeing is a typical example of over-reaction.

As Hong Kong begins a new era with a new chief executive, it will be crucial to allow the people to have the mental capacity to conjure up even all sorts of crazy ideas - whether good or bad. What's bad for some can be good for others.

Public figures - especially those in power - should learn to respect dissent if Hong Kong is meant to be what it's always been.

It's troubling to discover that Chan's office has gone so far as to state its opposition in an official letter, which is highly inappropriate. Is it necessary to take everything so seriously all the time?

If that's the case, the SAR would become a place where any dissent will be viewed suspiciously.

Chill out, mate - don't be a killjoy!

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