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August 3rd, 2009:

Mahjong halls flouting ban


Out of the five mahjong parlours that I play at in Sham Shui Po, all but one is still full of smokers ruining my lungs and my clothes with cigarette smoke.

Staff continue to give out free cigarettes and even help players light them. I have complained to the Tobacco Control Office, but the problem is still there, a month after the smoking ban began.

I have personally given up on the office because it does not have enough enforcement officers to effectively implement the law.

Instead, I hope that the Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority (Tela) can help out. The Tela commissioner is empowered under the Gambling Ordinance to cancel any mahjong parlour licence anytime “he considers that the public interest so requires”.

It appears to me that where a mahjong parlour wilfully turns a blind eye or actively assists in behaviour that contravenes a law within its premises, the commissioner is entitled to cancel that establishment’s licence in the public interest.

I hope the commissioner acts on complaints against mahjong parlours that participate in or ignore such activities within their premises.

William Yip, Sham Shui Po