SCMP Friday, July 27, 2001

Banned replicas still for sale


Updated at 6.55pm:
The Anti-Pornographic and Violent Media Campaign, a watchdog group against violent information, said a "double standard" was in effect concerning the sale of model weapons at the Hong Kong Book Fair 2001, which ended earlier this week, and the Hong Kong Comics Festival, which opened on Friday morning.
The Hong Kong Comics Festival attracted more than a thousand youngsters who queued up overnight to buy replicas of weapons featured in popular comics.
"The venue proprietor of this event is irresponsible", said Choi Chi-sum, a member of the Anti-Pornographic and Violent Media Campaign. "Hong Kong Trade Development Council (TDC) banned sale of toy weapons at the book fair earlier this week. But teenagers can purchase metal knifes, swords and other dangerous objects at this fair [the Comics Festival]."
However, the "TDC said they were not in the position to ban sale of harmful toys this time, as they were only the venue proprietor and not the organiser of the event," Mr Choi added. "It was only an excuse. How can you have two different practices within the same week? This is a double standard."
Mr Choi also criticised the lay-out of comic booths in the venue. "The stalls selling action and violent comics are too close to the children's comics booths, and may have a bad influence on teenagers coming to the fair."
However, the organiser of the five-day event said the toys did no harm to the public.
"From our experience over the past two years, the model weapons did not have any negative effects on our readers," said Tony Wong Yuk-long, chairman of Hong Kong Comics Federation. "Many buy them as memorabilia and souvenirs for their personal collections."
Mr Wong added that sales of dangerous replicas were forbidden. ''Model weapons more than 20 inches long are banned and those longer than 12 inches can only be sold to persons over the age of 18."