The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department dropped charges against a 75-year-old woman for selling cardboard without a hawker license.
The u-turn on Monday came after much public outcry over the incident, including a protest joined by 30 people on Sunday and a petition with over 15,000 signatures.
The elderly woman, surnamed Chu, was approached by six department officers on June 11 in Central after she sold a piece of cardboard to a domestic helper for HK$1. She was later charged for unlicensed hawking and obstruction of public places.
She said she was released on bail for HK$30, with only HK$34 in her purse.
Activists called the actions of the department officers “merciless”.
In a written statement, the department said it would withdraw the charges against Chu after consulting the Department of Justice and considering the woman’s background, but added that it will continue to take “law enforcement action” against illegal hawking.
“I was really happy after the phone call [informing me about the drop of prosecution]” said Chu in light of the decision. She thanked the public for their assistance but rejected financial support.