‘Condoms’ save HK’s palm trees from vandals

HONG KONG: Palm trees along the Kowloon waterfront here were saved from New Year’s vandals by protective “condoms” fitted to their trunks, officials said yesterday. 

The novel measure of wrapping dozens of trees and sculptures along the waterfront in transparent plastic was taken after a spate of attacks by graffiti artists on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. 

A government spokesman said 10 palm trees had been sprayed with paint on New Year’s Eve but all were unharmed because of the plastic wrapping on their trunks. 

However, the move was criticised by education and environmental groups who said it might actually encourage people to spray graffiti and could harm the palm trees. 

More than 300,000 people took part in celebrations to see in the New Year along the Kowloon waterfront, while around 50,000 others partied in Time Square, Victoria Park and Lan Kwai Fong. 

Six tonnes of rubbish was picked up outside the Cultural Centre on the Kowloon waterfront, compared to 20 tonnes on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, the government spokesman said. 

Ten people were issued with summons for littering and 12 people were given verbal warnings for spraying graffiti, he said. 

“On New Year’s Eve, the public exercised a lot of restraint and a lot of respect,” this territory's Secretary for Home Affairs Patrick Ho said yesterday morning. 

He added that officials would look at the lessons of New Year’s Eve to decide how to handle the larger-scale festivities coming at the end of January to mark the start of the Chinese New Year. – dpa 

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