Smuggling in Sai Kung waters is rarely nasty — weapons, drugs, humans– a marine police source said. It’s mostly commercial, ie high-value products such as hard-drives, medical instruments and agarwood. Even cars. A light aircraft pilot recalls flying a Cessna in Mirs Bay over a cigarette boat with two cars in it. “I wondered if they might start shooting at me,” the Aviation Club pilot said.
Under questioning about how much nasty stuff is going on in our waters, the police source said, “I have to give you the official version: There is not much evidence of the smuggling of serious criminal items.”
Police policy is to hit any form of smuggling hard, he said. “If we didn’t take a robust anti-smuggling stance it would mushroom overnight.” The main activity of the smugglers is commercial. They take advantage of Hong Kong’s free-port status and ship goods that will be profitable when sold on the mainland. “We hit this sort of thing hard because if we didn’t the situation would degenerate into serious stuff. Triads fighting over turf and the like,” the marine police officer who can’t be named said.
Operating out of the Tui Min Hui base are 300 men and women with 20 boats. Their front-line “eyes” are radar and day-and-night cameras at vantage points over-looking the sea. Staff at the Sai Wan Ho headquarters monitor images coming back from the surveillance points and can radio the boats. Three are 30-metre-long patrol boats with 15 crew and high-velocity assault rifles. The others are 19-metre patrol boats and fast boston whalers and catamarans. In Port Shelter a barge is moored as a forward support base for the smaller police boats.
Superintendent Roger Mui, who had nothing to do this story, is now the commander of the Tui Min Hui marine police base, responsible for Sai Kung waters.