Smugglers Conflict with Protesters, Police Arrived with Shield and Dogs

Around 20 people, including local residents, members of North District Parallel Imports Concern Group, and some well-known netizens, joined Alpahis Lam Wai-Size to protest against MTR for failing to control smugglers’ problems at Sheung Shui Station in the afternoon of this Saturday (10 Jan 2015).

They requested MTR to reinstall scales at the concourse on the upper floor to check the weight of smugglers’ luggage, as an increasing number of smugglers have attempted to skip the luggage weight check at Exit C and D (on the ground floor, directly connected to the platform) by rushing or sneaking through the ticket gates at the concourse. They also requested MTR to strictly enforce the luggage weight limit and to deploy more personnel, as security guards of MTR do not always enforce the regulation by requesting all smugglers with luggage to go to the floor ground for a weight check.

A few smugglers challenged them at the station with foul languages, while MTR grey-uniform security guards stood outside in a row.

After each of the them have submitted a letter of complaint to MTR (see its content at the end), they went to the podium of Choi Yuen Plaza, an open area always occupied by smugglers, and shouted “Smugglers shame on you” on the way.

On the podium, one man who claims to be a resident of Choi Yuen Estates and supports smugglers, scolded and pushed the protesters. Police was called. About two dozen of policemen has arrived, equipped with shields and dogs, and separated the two groups. A policeman in white shirt demanded to copy the ID information of people on the scene but was objected by protesters.

Some of the protesters went to visit So Sai-chi, the elected member and the chairman of North District Council. But he was not in the office. They attached slogans on the office wall then went to visit another elected DC member Simon Wong Yun-Kueng. But he was also not in the office. So they dropped slogans into the mailbox and left.

According to North District Parallel Imports Concern Group, the police have promised to coordinate with MTR staff at Exit A to guide passengers with large luggage to follow the luggage weight limit regulation from 3:00 – 6:00 pm starting on this Monday for five consecutive days.

It was said that another round of protest will be held in the afternoon of 17 Jan.

North District Parallel Imports Concern Group has also announced that the group will hold some events on 24 Jan.

The condition has immediately improved on next day (Sunday 11 Jan).  A lot of cross-border smugglers lined up at Exit C for luggage weight check under the supervisor of the police and the MTR staff.

MTR has imposed a 23kg weight limit on luggage being carried by passengers on East Rail Line since 4 Feb 2013.

Sheung Shui Station has two floors. The ground floor has two exits, Exit C and Exit D. Exit C directly connects to the platform that goes north, while Exit D directly connects to the platform that goes south. The concourse is on the upper floor. It sits above the railway, connected with footbridges that go to different areas of Sheung Shui. Currently, only Exit C and Exit D have scales to measure whether a passenger’s luggage has overweight.

Letter of Complaint

A template of the letter of complaint is available on the Internet in Chinese. The complaint can be filed via MTR online feedback form. Below is my translated version:

At around 3 pm of 6th Jan 2015, a lot of people with luggage suspected to be overweighed or oversized attempted to skip the luggage limit check by sneakily passing through the ticket gate at Exit A at the concourse of Sheung Shui MTR station. When MTR staff requested a suspicious passenger to have a weight check at Exit C or Exit D at the ground floor, the suspect argued that his items are not overweighed and refused the request.

MTR staff has failed to fulfill their duties on handling problems caused by smugglers because:

  1. They do not report to their supervisor or call the police for help when a passenger has refused to follow the weight check request. Instead, they let him goes to avoid trouble.
  2. There is not enough staff to request all suspicious passengers to have weight check at Exit C and Exit D at the ground floor.
  3. MTR has accepted the suggestion of DC member Simon Wong Yun-Kueng to remove scales at Exit A and Exit B. This creates a loophole for people to skip the luggage weight check.

MTR should do the following in order to improve the method on handling problems caused by smugglers:

  1. Reinstall scales at all exits of Sheung Shui Station, including Exit A and Exit B to plug the loophole.
  2. Increase staff at each exit. There should be at least four to five MTR staff at each exit.
  3. MTR should cooperate with the police to combat smugglers’ violation of MTR by-laws, include: request for more policemen to patrol Sheung Shui Station; establish a hotline or a notification mechanism to handle incidents such as smugglers refused to have luggage weight check.

References

Addendum

  • Recent photos about smugglers at Choi Yuen Estate from hkgolden
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