'Mid-Levels Themed Dining Area' - real tourist turn-off

PUBLISHED : Monday, 02 October, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 02 October, 2000, 12:00am

After reading the cover story on SoHo in the Features section of the South China Morning Post, on September 26, I feel compelled to ask why it is that Kam Nai-wai, a politician who has had nothing to do with the development of the SoHo area (in fact he has done nothing but attempt to thwart growth) be allowed to determine the appeal or validity of a name for the area.

SoHo, as in New York and London, is only a catchy geographical reference - South of Hollywood (Road) in the case of Hong Kong.

I don't think anyone really relates the name directly to London or New York. Mr Kam speaks so passionately about the association with sex and filth.

I have been to London several times and have never seen the things Mr Kam talked about. I think this argument is absurd.

Surely a name that develops spontaneously will have more identity than one that is purely contrived or designed by a committee.

Where was the politicians' input four years ago when the name evolved? My family has lived in this area since I was a child.

When I moved away to attend university the area was run-down and considered a relatively undesirable part of Hong Kong, but it still had its charm. Since moving back four years ago, the area has had a dramatic makeover.

It is now more clean and stylish, patrolled by policemen and street-cleaners and possesses the same charm, if not more.

My parents and most of the residents (their friends) of the area have never even heard of SoHo anywhere else in the world. In fact, they do not care what anyone labels the area as long as their quality of life is not infringed upon.

'Mid-levels Themed Dining Area' has about as much appeal as a meal in a military mess hall.

This contrived name has the ring of a government-endorsed programme and is completely un-marketable to the public and tourists.

Marketable areas, sites and attractions are exactly what Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Tourist Association desperately need in order to bring Hong Kong back to the tourist destination it once was.

Let us not forget that tourism is one of Hong Kong's biggest industries and fuels this economy.

The name SoHo has stuck and any attempts to change it will only deplete what goodwill has been developed over several years.

All people who have made an investment in the area, from landlords, shop-owners, restaurateurs and residents should be able to live harmoniously together - if politicians can only refrain from stirring things up.

The people who live and work in the area and those who have invested in its transformation have everything to lose by fighting the name-battle, not politicians. Creating 'issues' is a common tactic of politicians to justify their existence and certainly cannot be viewed as noble.

Politicians view any battle as an opportunity to make political gains. In fact it is politicians who should be the ones who are there to broker the peace. I say let the area evolve and manage it.

Hopefully this will bring a better life and more prosperity to those who live and work in the area and to Hong Kong as a whole.