Li Ka-shing

Money seals gardens' fate

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 December, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 December, 1998, 12:00am


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Regarding the letter by Name And Address Supplied ('Tiger Balm Garden part of Hong Kong character', South China Morning Post, December 22), not so long ago these gardens were considered by residents to be in extremely 'bad taste' and only suitable for children and tourists to visit.

Now they are more than 60 years old and occupying one of the few remaining open areas in this part of the Island, their quality is at last being appreciated.

It seems they have some historic merit from a Hong Kong cultural/sociological view-point, even if their value as high art may be questionable.

But the chances of Name And Address Supplied being able to drum-up support for their retention on this count seems slim in view of the site's potential for luxury housing.

Probably the best we can hope for is that purchaser Cheung Kong can arrange to retain the most grotesque of the mythical beasts for the proposed theme park as a warning to sinners (and conservationists?).

Incidentally, a list of historic sites and buildings is kept by the Home Affairs Bureau but very few gardens, in either good or bad taste, are included.

BILL GREAVES Repulse Bay I was amused by Name And Address Supplied's letter. The Tiger Balm Gardens have never been anything but a tawdry and shambolic depiction of various Chinese myths, legends and ersatz history.

That they have lasted so long is a tribute to the credulity of tourists, local or otherwise. There is still plenty to see in Hong Kong which is truly of interest to those who seek more than candy-floss.

If Li Ka-shing should decide to call his new development 'Mammon Heights', then perhaps we would have yet another site worthy of the epithet 'part of Hong Kong character'.