Hong Kong police detective in court fight for right to dye

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THE latest controversy affecting the Hong Kong police has nothing to do with immigration or drug gangs - and everything to do with hair colour.

A senior Hong Kong female detective is asking the courts to declare a police order banning officers from dyeing their hair as "irrational and unenforceable".

Sharon Lim, a senior inspector who has light brown highlights in her hair, went to court after her superior ordered her to remove the highlights in favour of her natural brown colour, the South China Morning Post reported.

The police rule went into effect in January 2001, which put Ms Lim in "an awkward position" because she had had her hair highlighted before joining the police force in 1987, according to court documents.

"As there was no dye of her hair colour available on the market, the only way for her to comply with the order would be to let her hair grow out and then cut it from time to time, which she did," the writ said.

But Ms Lim was put on a disciplinary charge on 21 March for allegedly disobeying the order to remove her highlights.

She accused her superior of demanding that she do something about her hair in an intimidating manner only after their working relationship had become disharmonious last year.

Ms Lim has objected to a one-person internal hearing, which would be heard by a former colleague of her superior. She is seeking a court order to have an independent tribunal hear th charges against her.

She is one of four Hong Kong policewomen who kept their hair dyed and face possible disciplinary action, but her legal action is thought to be the first of its kind.

It has become a fashion trend among young Asians to have their hair dyed from dark brown or black to lighter shades or colours like blonde, red or purple.

But Hong Kong’s police commissioner, Tsang Yam-pui has insisted he wants to ensure that an officer’s appearance is a credit to the force. The dress code also forbids male officers from wearing earrings on duty.

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