Several homeless people have submitted a petition to pro-Beijing District Councillor Benny Yeung Tsz-hei’s office protesting his efforts to have street-sleepers moved on.

Yeung, a member of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, proposed moving homeless people away from the area near Ferry Street in Yau Ma Tei at Yau Tsim Mong’s District Council meeting last week, according to Apple Daily. He submitted documents to the council requesting cross-departmental cooperation between Food and Environmental Hygiene Department and the Lands Department to tackle the issue.

homeless protest
The homeless protest outside Benny Yeung’s office on Wednesday.

The protesters were accompanied by Father Franco Mella, who told Stand News that it was heartless of pro-establishment District Councillors to ask the government to remove homeless people. “They’ll only end up [sleeping] somewhere else if you chase them away… is this a way of solving the problem? In this weather, it could be life threatening for the homeless. Many have already lost their lives under this bridge.”

Street Sleepers Action Committee’s Wong Nai-yuen said that almost a hundred homeless people signed a petition protesting Yeung’s actions.

‘Personal health and safety’ 

Yeung defended the statements he made at the District Council meeting, saying that it was out of concern for the personal safety and health of the homeless. He said that he hoped the Social Welfare Department would follow up on matter of accommodation and restore the public space to its original appearance. He denied trying to have the homeless people removed.

benny yeung dab
Benny Yeung, DAB.

Street sleeper-turned-volunteer Kong Ho-man told Apple Daily that, over the past ten years, the government had been employing increasingly inhumane tactics towards the homeless, throwing out their belongings while the Cold Weather Warning Signal was in force, and repeatedly washing key areas.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.