Sun, Sep 26, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Pop star's photo op during air-raid drill could net big fine

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Hong Kong's godfather of Canto-pop, Jackie Cheung (張學友), may be the first entertainer who is fined for violating the nation's air-raid drill laws, a National Police Agency representative said yesterday.

"A drill is regarded as warfare. Everybody has to follow related regulations and there is no exception on that," said Chen Fu-hsiang (陳富祥), chief of the agency's Civil Defense Division.

On Sept. 22, Cheung arrived in Taipei to participate in an MTV show, and when he arrived at the studio, the Wan-an drill began.

All motor and other vehicles were required to pull over on the streets and pedestrians were obliged to take shelter and stay indoors during the 30-minute drill.

However, as the sirens began to sound, MTV and record company employees accompanying Cheung thought the empty streets made an unusual photo opportunity, and so the crew took advantage of it.

MTV later distributed the picture of Cheung standing alone in a street usually clogged by Taipei's routinely heavy traffic.

According to Article 21 of the Civilian Defense Law (民防法), during such drills authorities are authorized to fine anyone who violates the regulations from NT$30,000 to NT$150,000.

Chen said the police will mail the ticket after they decide who its recipient will be: Cheung, his record company or MTV.

Universal Records Promotion Manager Dai Da-wei (戴大偉) said the crew did the shoot for fun, not to violate the law.

"It only took us few seconds to take the picture for Cheung and there were still many people outside and on their way indoors," Dai said. "It was merely an accident and misunderstanding."

Since Cheung is not a Taiwan resident, whether foreigners are penalized for not following the military drill regulations might also be a contentious issue.

However, Chen said that foreigners are also required to follow local laws and regulations.

"We will figure out who is supposed to take the responsibility and fine the right person," Chen said.

As for Cheung, he said that he had no idea that what he did was against the law.

"It just felt so interesting that it was possible to have no vehicles on the road in Taipei in the middle of the day, so I took the picture. As a result, I do not know how to comment on the issue," Cheung said.

"I have no intention to violate the law at all," the singer said.

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