Lion dance checks defended

Authorities need to scrutinize applications for lion dance performances, including criminal records of those taking part, as law-breakers could use such activities to cover up their crimes, says Secretary for Security Chris Tang Ping-keung.

"The existing permit and related exemption mechanism has been operating effectively over the years," Tang said yesterday in a written reply to an inquiry from lawmaker Lau Chi-pang of the Election Committee constituency.

Police will take reference from the criminal conviction record to assess whether the applications should be approved.

"The criminal conviction records serve as useful references for police's assessment in considering whether such activities involve lawbreakers or are being used for covering up illegal activities," Tang said. "Police have been continually reviewing the existing mechanism. "

He added: "Police will ensure public safety and public order while facilitating lion dance activities and attendant martial arts displays."

The force has received 64 applications for permits this year and eight of them were rejected.

Lau had said some believed the practice of requiring permits or exemptions for lion dance, dragon dance, unicorn dance and attendant martial art would hinder the development of traditional sports.

Under the Summary Offences Ordinance, anyone who organizes or takes part in lion dance, dragon dance, unicorn dance and attendant martial art without permission from police is guilty of an offense punishable by a fine and imprisonment of six months.