SCMP Wednesday, July 11, 2001

Rave licences 'out of step with Deng dance pledge'


Deng Xiaoping's famous pledge that horse-racing and dancing would continue in post-handover Hong Kong was being threatened by a move to tighten controls on rave parties, a legislator said yesterday.
Under the government proposal, dance parties attended by more than 50 people will have to be licensed.
Non-affiliated Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee said yesterday: "It's been said that 'dancing will continue'. Why do we need a licence now for dancing?
"It's kind of paternalistic [to write] guidelines for the regulation of rave parties," she told Legco's security panel.
Deng said that "horse-racing will continue; ballroom dancing will still be the rage" to put Hong Kong at ease that it would retain its freedom after the handover. The catchphrase was widely adopted by mainland sloganeers.
Some lawmakers raised concerns that freedom to stage any party attended by more than 50 people would be affected.
Dances held at premises already covered by liquor licences or licensed as a public dance hall or dancing school will be exempt. About 75 rave venues are currently not subject to any form of licensing control.
Selina Chow Liang Shuk-yee, of the Liberal Party, said it would be time-consuming for groups such as college students to apply for a licence to stage a dance. She also questioned how the new licensing controls would solve drug-taking problems. But Commissioner for Narcotics Clarie Lo Ku Ka-lee said private dance parties would be exempt.
"This is not a new licensing system, but there is a grey area in the existing ordinance that means some dancing venues have no licences. The amendment is to make clear that all dancing venues would be bound by the ordinance," she said.
Assistant Commissioner of Police Stephen Chandler said rave party organisers would be required to distribute anti-drug materials, and would have to try to prevent drugs being distributed.
If organisers took no action to deter drug use their licence would be revoked, he said.