Leave our dawn market in peace, residents beg
Vendors and residents have urged the government to legalise a popular dawn market in Tin Shui Wai, where sellers still play cat and mouse with hawker control officers six years after an elderly hawker drowned while trying to avoid the officers.
They say the market is an important source of income for housewives struggling to make ends meet in the depressed area, while providing residents with cheap goods.
About 100 hawkers sell food and clothing every day from 7am to 10am at the market, which opened in 1993 on the bank of the nullah near Tin Yan Estate. They want the area officially designated a market so they can sell their wares without fear of harassment.
'I hope the government can give me the legitimacy to run my business and serve the nearby residents,' grocer Liu Chiu-sum said yesterday on the anniversary of the day in 2006 when Lo Kong-ching, 65, leapt into the nullah and drowned during a raid. 'We aren't asking for more - just the same area is good enough.'
According to the results of a poll conducted by two community groups and released to coincide with the anniversary of Lo's death, their customers support them.
The Community Development Alliance and Concerning CSSA Review Alliance found that 84 per cent of the 130 people polled supported a designated area being allocated for the market.
Liu, 62, has been selling goods including eggs, towels and toilet paper at the market for three years.
He said the 'tyranny' of property developers had pushed up the cost of items in supermarkets and chain stores, and he hoped to help those who were struggling to pay such prices.
'Selling the goods cheaper than supermarkets and chain stores hopefully can help make the poor people's lives a bit easier,' he said.
Most of the hawkers are Tin Shui Wai housewives.
'Hawking allows me to make some extra money and to take care of my daughters,' a mother of two girls said.
She said she was tired of being chased away by officers from the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department.
On Monday, hawker-control officers were seen patrolling the market at 9.30am but none of the hawkers were arrested.
The survey found that 29 per cent of the customers visit the dawn market every day, and 32 per cent visit it every one to three days.
'Products sold here are much cheaper. A designated area could help the dawn market, which is part of the local culture, to thrive,' said Fung Yuk-ling, a resident who shops at the market several times a month.
Athena Wong Wing-chi, a social worker with Community Development Alliance, said: 'The market has a long history. We joined forces with the hawkers two years ago to negotiate with the government departments, hoping that they will designate a legal hawking area for the market next to Tin Yan Estate.'
Tin Shui Wai district councillor Luk Chung-hung said he agreed that there should be regulated hawking in the district.
'It helps the underprivileged people become self-reliant and gives residents more choices,' he said.
At its peak in the early 1970s, HK had up to this many unregulated hawkers. Today there are 7,500 licensed and 3,000 unlicensed hawkers