Close

Support Global Voices

To stay independent, free, and sustainable, our community needs the help of friends and readers like you.

Donate now »

Hong Kong: Illegal 14K Design

On November 1, 2007, Hong Kong Police force took action against a local household design chain store, G.O.D (Goods of Desire), confiscated 88 T-shirt with a “14K” logo and arrested 17 people, some were designers and some were shop keepers. The police claimed that they were in possession of triad society goods.

14K is a local triad group. The police also claimed that it is illegal to wear the T-shirt as it is illegal for anyone to wear triad accessories. The penalty can be up to HKD100,000 (USD74,000) and three years imprisonment.

The police action has resulted in public outrage. As one of the articles under the association ordinance, “claim to be a triad society member”, has been applied to arrest netizens a few months ago. Local bloggers pick up the issue quickly and some urged the government to amend the law.

The meaning of 14K does not necessarily stands for triad society; it can be 14K gold or monthly salary figure. Therefore, LittleOslo made his own T-shirt with a logo “monthly salary 14K”:

Memory-Melody-Mentality also made a T-shirt with a dog face to create a satire: If wearing a 14K T-shirt would make you a triad society member, then wearing a dog T-shirt would probably make you a dog. According to the law, a dog with more than 20 kg has to wear a less-than-1.5 m belt or it would be caught by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department. So remember to tie yourself to a belt and ask your friend to hold it firmly if you wear a dog-face T-shirt!

Diumanpark pointed out that the implementation of the law can be more flexible:

有法,不一定要死板地執行,可以容許一定的彈性,因為用法的是人。

Even though the law exists, it is not necessary to implement it strictly and mechanically, it can allow some flexibility. It is people behind the law.

給住好啲的人情,並不是縱容這件T恤賣下去。首先,如果市民覺得這件T恤非常反感,衝擊社會,大可批評售賣的公司,像猶太人對納稅設計般施壓,逼令收回。

To give discretion for G.O.D doesn't mean the society encourages the selling of this T-shirt. If people find the t-shirt annoying and against the society's moral standard, they can criticize the company, similar to the boycott of Nazi design that pressed the company to recall the product.

偏偏警方選擇在沒有任何準備下突擊搜查,令人側目。誠然,警方有權搜捕,可以做大龍鳳給傳媒看,也可以做給黑社會看,但這個行動背後,會進一步破壞一個liberal的社會環境。

However, the police choose to search the shop without giving any warning. Such action is very conspicuous. Of course, the police has the power, they can self-directed the show for the mass media, for the triad society. However, such action would also destroy the atmosphere of a liberal society.

Henryporter revisited the history of the Association Ordinance and called for a legal reform:

有關黑社會的概念經已改變,過往黑社會滲透校園所引發的青少年罪案,慢慢已被無所隸屬的小規模童黨所取代;隨著公民意思的加強與警隊效率的提高,黑社會所能勒索、敲詐的範圍大規模縮少…當然,社會仍有人時刻擔心黑社會死灰復燃,所以一些基本的條例如:「身為三合會成員」、「自稱三合會成員」、「煽動他人加入三合會」、「向三合會施予援助」等,都有保留的必要。不過當社會環境與風氣已有所轉變的今天,「書寫或講三合會術語」、「穿戴有三合會組織名稱或術語的飾物」、「使用任何三合會儀式」此等定罪範圍較為廣泛的條例,是否可有放寬的空間?

The concept of triad society has changed. In the past, triad society penetrated into schools and induced teenage crime, now the situation has been replaced by small scale teenage peer group. As the civil society is more mature and the police more effective, there is less and less triad society blackmailing activities… Of course, our society may still be worried that the triad would become active again, we therefore need to preserve some articles to make illegal “triad society member”, “self-claim triad society member”, “instigating other to join the triad society”, “giving assistance to triad”, etc. However, with a new social environment, we can amend articles on “writing or talking in triad language”, “wearing accessories with triad society's name or language”, “performance of triad ritual”, etc.

The blogger provided some triad language examples:

某些數目字如426、438、415、432皆代表著黑社會某些職位,只要簡單一句:「我係426」也構成刑事罪行…

Some number combinations such as 426, 438, 415, 432, they stand for certain position within the triad. According to the existing law, when someone said, “I am 426″ s/he would face a criminal charge.

Ben Ng criticized that the police action has threatened individual's freedom and creativity.

這種不斷被強化的泛道德主義令人心寒。這不單是扼殺創意,而是威脅個人的自由空間,香港趨向缺乏容忍包容,什麼都可道德上上綱上線的單色城市。

This kind of pan-moralism is very frightening. It not only kills creativities, but also threatens individual freedom. Hong Kong is becoming less and less tolerant; the city is turning into a mono color city with black and white moral principle.

Life is but an empty dream asked a simple question: is such action capable of crushing triad society? If yes, then it is such an easy job. If not, what is the purpose?

透過打擊這些自以為穿上諧音tee就是黑社會就可以好型但九成九又與黑社會無關的人,阻止社團風氣蔓延‧‧‧這場騷代價是貴,但荒誕感及狐疑度認真值回票價。

So the crushing down of triad is the crushing down of those who found themselves cool by wearing T-shirt which gives free vocal association with the triad, even though 99% of them have nothing to do with the triad. Well, this is to stop the triad culture… the police show is really expensive, but the ridiculous and incredible performance is worthy of price.

In respond to Ben Ng's opinion, Life is grey wondered if creativity can override morality:

創作不等如正確,創作不一定要支持。創作不應受道德規範,但發表了,就要考慮到對社會的影響。

Creative work is not equal to correctness, and we don't have to always support creative work. Maybe creative work shouldn’t be restricted by morality; but we have to consider the impact of the resulted product towards the society.

Daihung also disagreed with the saying that the 14K design is just for fun. Nazi's logo is no fun at all.

However, Tiney pointed out that we can criticize the design being banal or vulgar, however bad taste, it shouldn't become a reason for this kind of arrest.

Erynnyes called those who supported the police action hypocrites :

黑社會,不論中外,也是創作題材,英、美、日本、台灣、甚至今天中國大陸,也有以黑社會作為題材創作的電影,若以香港警方今次邏輯,豈非要全禁止這些電影在港播放?那不是教壞年青人?

創意,從來是無界限,不論是踩政治、還是道德界線,因為創意從來是由挑戰權威而來,若今次香港連這些T恤也容不下,要上網上線,香港,還怎可以叫創意之都?

Triad society, no matter it is in the East or the West, is a theme for creative work. In U.K, U.S, Japan, Taiwan, and China, there are popular movies about the triad. According to Hong Kong police's logic, we have to ban all these movies in Hong Kong then? Because they set up bad example for our youth?

Creativity is borderless; it frequently steps onto the borderline of politics and morality. Creativity has a tendency to challenge authority. If we can't tolerate the T-shirt and insist to uphold the black and white principle, how can Hong Kong become a creative city?

Start the conversation

Authors, please log in »

Guidelines

  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices!

Submitted addresses will be confirmed by email, and used only to keep you up to date about Global Voices and our mission. See our Privacy Policy for details.

Newsletter powered by Mailchimp (Privacy Policy and Terms).

* = required field
Email Frequency



No thanks, show me the site