Save street markets, party urges

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 26 July, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 July, 2007, 12:00am

The new Development Bureau was urged yesterday to rejuvenate the city's old street markets and encourage new people in to the traditional trade instead of eliminating them.

The Civic Party, which made the call, said the markets and their cultural value were threatened by aggressive redevelopment projects and a stagnant hawker policy under which no new licences were issued.

The party is campaigning to save the Graham Street market in Central, which is to be removed under an Urban Renewal Authority plan.

A spokesman for the Development Bureau said the authority took into account local character when planning projects. 'The recently launched project at Peel Street demonstrates our effort on this front. Although the hawkers fall outside the project boundaries, the authority fully encourages them to continue their activities upon completion of the project,' he said

Party vice-chairman Tanya Chan Shuk-chong said: 'After so many years of development the street markets have evolved into public places with their own cultural value. The government should devise a long-term policy on how to keep them.'

Ms Chan said a policy bureau, preferably the Development Bureau, should head and co-ordinate work with various departments to preserve street markets.

Party member Paul Zimmerman, convenor of Designing Hong Kong Harbour District, said that the existing hawker licence holders, most of whom applied for their permits in the 1970s, had reached old age.

He said the government should review its policy to allow new people to keep the street markets going.

Now, once the holder of a hawker licence dies, only his immediate relations can inherit the licence.

A Food and Health Bureau spokeswoman said that the policy need not change, as hawkers would cause hygiene and noise problems.

But Chinese University historian Ho Pui-yin said street markets were an opportunity for members of the lower middle class to get ahead.