Secretary for Administration and Justice Sonia Chan has said that, in relation to the issue of illegal guesthouses, she will proceed with an in-depth study and will articulate the opinions of the Secretary for Security and the Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture. However, she pointed out that there is no preliminary direction yet.
On the sidelines of Sunday’s Charity Walk for a Million, Chan said that the Chief Executive had already instructed her to proceed with studies on how to handle illegal guesthouses, and to articulate and analyze the views of the aforementioned secretaries.
Chan explained that the study must analyze key issues before the government reaches a consensus, including an examination of all the cases that took place over the last two years, as well as each case’s conclusion. Chan said declared that her secretariat needs time to conduct an in-depth study.
While presenting at the charity march, Secretary for Security Wong Sio Chak said that his secretariat would fully cooperate with Chan in regards to the study. He added that prior to the study being complete, the Public Security Police Force (PSP) would continue to collaborate on illegal guesthouse crackdowns.
In addition to Chan and Wong, the Prosecutor General of the Public Prosecutions Office, Ip Son Sang, noted that the illegal guesthouse issue is one which has disturbed the local community for a long time and has greatly impacted residents.
However, the Prosecutor General believes that society needs to be cautious when handling the criminalization of illegal guesthouses.
Ip noted that criminalization is the last step concerning legal principles, and that it should not be implemented until the last moment.
Ip explained that the illegal guesthouse issue is rather complex and sensitive, with the topic involving tourism development and guesthouse supply to tourists.
Regarding whether it would be unsuitable to criminalize illegal guesthouses, Ip said, “It can’t be said like that.”
“It is difficult to simply say that once there is a criminal system, problems can be solved. I think this problem cannot be seen like that,” affirmed Ip.