3rd March 2024 – (Hong Kong)

The recent uncovering of an illegal dog meat eatery run by fake refugees has again exposed this menace plaguing Hong Kong. Beyond condemning the lawbreakers, the government must enact comprehensive reforms addressing the interconnected issues enabling such criminality to flourish. Only through courageous moral leadership can justice and order be restored.

In late February 2023, Hong Kong authorities raided an unlicensed restaurant discreetly operating from a small apartment. Inside, they made the appalling discovery of over 35 kilograms of frozen dog and cat meat apparently intended for human consumption. Four Vietnamese asylum seekers were arrested, including a teenager, along with a 33-year-old illegal immigrant from Vietnam.

Investigations revealed the restaurant had been covertly serving illicit meat for over six months. Consuming dogs and cats is outlawed in Hong Kong, carrying maximum penalties of six months imprisonment and fines up to HK$5,000. This ban reflects modern mores recognizing companion animals deserve protection, not exploitation.

Shockingly, this was just the latest in a spate of dog and cat meat trading offences with reported complaints skyrocketing from one in 2021 to 35 last year. Clearly enforcement has been grossly inadequate, enabling such crimes to become a lucrative underground enterprise.

The Vietnamese origin of the perpetrators in the recent dog meat case also spotlights the immensity of this cruel trade in Vietnam itself. An estimated 5 million dogs are trafficked and slaughtered annually in Vietnam’s unregulated dog meat industry, inflicting immense animal suffering. The largely illegal trade also facilitates spread of rabies and other zoonotic diseases. While some Vietnamese consume dog meat, many also increasingly oppose the cruel trade as pet ownership rises. This shifting sentiment presents opportunities for reform.

Equally alarming, the majority of perpetrators were bogus refugees exploiting Hong Kong’s lax immigration policies. In late 2023 alone, dozens of fake Vietnamese asylum seekers snuck into the city, joining the estimated 10,000 already embedded in local triad gangs. By exploiting legal loopholes, they often remain for years despite involvement in diverse criminal activities.

This latest incident demonstrates how Hong Kong is paying a steep price for its hospitality being abused. Since 2012/13, the government has spent HK$11 billion on supporting fake refugees through humanitarian aid, legal expenses, and processing their endless non-refoulement claims. This massive drain on public resources has been repaid with worsening ingratitude, bringing public disorder and tarnishing Hong Kong’s reputation.

Yet the authorities seem oblivious to the need for resolute deterrence, preferring passive tolerance out of misguided compassion. But the fake refugees’ litany of criminality from violence to animal abuse shows leniency will only enable more misdeeds. Their rights cannot supercede law-abiding Hong Kong residents’ entitlement to security and stability.

Still, simply boosting enforcement without addressing root causes only treats superficial symptoms. Reflecting on how Hong Kong society allowed exploitation to take root suggests several complex factors demand nuanced reforms.

The government must immediately tighten refugee screening and accelerate processing of applications to prevent fraudulent cases from slipping through. Providing legitimate work opportunities for asylum seekers would also curb incentives for illegal trades. While global migration pressures create dilemmas without perfect solutions, Hong Kong cannot remain so susceptible to systemic abuse.

The authorities must also combat the inequality and unliveability alienating many into lawlessness. Neglected slums without adequate regulation become breeding grounds for illicit economies like dog meat rackets to exploit gaps. Creating an inclusive society with access to housing, healthcare and education will foster resistance to partaking in cruelty and crime.

It must also be pointed out that this case again involves bogus refugees, reflecting how the crimes of fake refugees are all-encompassing, both big and small. From 2012/13 to the present, the Hong Kong government has spent HK$11 billion in public funds supporting fake refugees, including various forms of humanitarian assistance, legal expenses, handling non-refoulment claims and more. This has resulted in ingratitude for kindness, turning Hong Kong foul and ghastly. The Hong Kong government is mistaken in its feminine compassion, spending money raising a tumor of public security threats. This newspaper has long questioned that in addition to turning Hong Kong into an abyss of evil, this will also eventually bankrupt Hong Kong. People really cannot understand why the human rights of fake refugees can override the interests of Hong Kong people. Fake refugees are a scourge on Hong Kong and a disaster for its people. Now even small animals have fallen victim to them, yet the Hong Kong government stubbornly refuses to withdraw from the United Nations Convention Against Torture, preferring to pick up a rock to crush its own feet – simply foolish.