Macau has warned taxi and hire car drivers not to illegally install recording equipment inside their vehicles, after a video of Hong Kong superstar Sammi Cheng Sau-man’s husband cheating on her was made public.
The leaked footage showed singer Andy Hui Chi-on kissing and cuddling TVB actress Jacqueline Wong in the back of a car, in a 16-minute video that quickly went viral.
The casino hub’s data protection watchdog issued the warning on Wednesday in response to “a matter that took place in a neighbouring district in which a video recording was made inside a taxi carriage, which has attracted media and public attention”.
Under the new law, the Office for Personal Data Protection said only video and audio devices installed by Macau’s Transport Bureau were legal. Offenders could face prosecution, resulting in heavy fines or imprisonment, it said.
In Hong Kong, the video has reopened the debate surrounding privacy concerns between lawmakers and the taxi industry, and many have urged the government to tighten regulations on the use of digital cameras. Although, it is not known whether the couple were in a taxi, hire car, or private vehicle when the video was taken.
A tearful Hui apologised at a press conference on Tuesday night, which hundreds of thousands of people watched online, while Wong issued a statement on her social media page on Wednesday admitting she was wrong and was ashamed of her actions.
“Sorry, I am wrong. I have done something very wrong, unforgivable, and I feel very ashamed about it,” the 30-year-old wrote.
“I would not dare to ask for everyone’s forgiveness. So, I just beg everyone to give all those involved some room. I seriously repent on my wrongdoings, and will accept any consequences or punishment.”
Wong’s boss at TVB, Virginia Lok, said the company felt the emotional actress needed to take some time off.
Actor Kenneth Ma Kwok-ming, who Wong has been dating for two years, has carried on working on a local drama series throughout the scandal, and asked the public to give the couple some room.
“She is still young and there are a lot of paths ahead of her, I wish everyone can give her some room,” Ma said. “Since Andy Hui has spoken, I would not say anything more. I feel no one else is qualified to have a say about this except his wife [Sammi Cheng].”
The Transport Department, while addressing public concern cameras in hire cars and taxis, said it was drafting guidelines on the matter, and these are expected to be completed this year.
But, lawmaker Michael Tien Puk-sun called the leaking of the video shocking, and said it showed the need for legislation, rather than guidelines that could be followed on a voluntary basis.
“If a guideline does not say when and who could use the camera data, there is no reason to make it,” Tien said.
In a non-binding motion passed by the Legislative Council last year, Tien sought to make the installation of on-board cameras on taxis compulsory, and under which the data could be used by law enforcement agencies investigating disputes between drivers and passengers.
The motion also wanted a restriction that meant the camera could only be pointed at the driver, and for cars to carry notices telling passengers there were recording devices installed.
Chan Man-keung, chairman of the Association of Taxi Industry Development, which has been promoting the compulsory installation of on-board cameras since 2016, said the guidelines would be better than nothing, but also agreed legislation was the best solution.
He added that the devices and the footage would serve to protect both drivers and passengers should disputes arise.
But Dr Hung Wing-Tat, a member of the Committee on Taxi Service Quality, said cabbies were not keen to install the devices after the privacy commissioner voiced concerns over the scheme.
While Craig Choy Ki, a lawyer and convenor of the Progressive Lawyers Group, believed if passengers could be identified in any footage, what was captured would be defined as personal data under existing privacy laws.
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