Tung proves a liquid asset for creative students

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 February, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 February, 2005, 12:00am

Apart from offering festive goodies, Lunar New Year fairs have also become a testing ground for adventurous young folk to flex their entrepreneurial and creative muscles - and to poke a little fun at Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa.

A tour around Victoria Park, host to the city's biggest Lunar New Year fair, shows young stallholders trying their best to catch people's attention - yelling catchy slogans and making themselves into walking advertisements by decorating their outfits with their products.

Prima Leung Pui-wah, 19, was busy at the stall she runs with friends showing curious onlookers how to make Mr Tung 'leak'.

'Come have a look, Tung clay models exclusively at our stall, we designed this,' her friends shouted proudly of the small figurines, which absorb water and fire a jet of it from his navel.

The group of business undergraduates from various universities have turned the stall into a classroom, in which they say they have learned more than they could from books. 'We just want to have a taste of setting up our own business and put what we've learned from classes into practice,' said the 19-year-old Hong Kong University student. 'A Lunar New Year fair is the perfect place.' Ms Leung said they had sold 30 per cent of their stock so far.

'Our stall is at the entrance. A lot of people will stop by. But most would like to tour the fair before making a shopping list,' she said.

With an investment of about $50,000, Ms Leung said they were confident of making a New Year fortune at the six-day fair. 'Even if it turns out to be otherwise, we've already earned something that money can't buy. We've had a great time working with each other,' she said.

A block away, Kanas Hung Kai-ying and her university friends were selling the fruits of their labour - hand-sewn dolls featuring 12 Chinese zodiacs. They plan to donate the profits to charity.

With $30,000 from the YMCA's Foundation of Youth Self-Realisation Scheme, the group of 18 Baptist University students ventured into a business that reminds one of a typical task in Donald Trump's The Apprentice, without the tension and with no one being fired.

'We've priced the dolls at $15 each,' Ms Hung said. 'Some said this was too low but we didn't want to deter customers.'

Two other entrepreneurs were not so successful, arrested by customs officers for selling 5,500 counterfeit spin wheels bearing the famous Hello Kitty cartoon character.