World

Unlicensed cardboard seller cleared of charges

HONG KONG: The authorities have dropped charges against a 75-year-old woman for selling cardboard without a hawker licence, reported South China Morning Post.

The decision came after a public outcry over her arrest.

The woman, surnamed Chu, sold a piece of cardboard she had collected to a domestic helper for HK$1 (18 Singapore cents) on June 11.

She was approached by six officers from the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department and later charged. She was also taken to the department office and the police station.

Madam Chu said she was released on bail for HK$30, which left her with only HK$34 in her purse.

The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department said on Monday that it had decided to withdraw the charges after consulting the Department of Justice and considering the woman's background.

Activists have denounced the department's officers for what they described as "merciless behaviour".

On Sunday, about 30 people staged a protest while a petition against the arrest has gathered over 15,000 signatures.

Madam Chu said she would continue to sell cardboard boxes for a living, which allows her to earn HK$300 to HK$500 a month. She also rejected offers of financial support.

"I am afraid to receive help," she said. "I want to do it on my own."

Last year, the department sparked anger for fining a 71-year-old cleaner HK$1,500 for dumping water on a street in Wan Chai.

Photos of the woman sobbing after the incident were circulated online, and the authorities later withdrew the fine. - THE STRAITS TIMES

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