Hong Kong's important maritime heritage needs a proper showcase

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 19 August, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 19 August, 2007, 12:00am

I wish to comment on the financial problems being experienced by the Hong Kong Maritime Museum ('That sinking feeling', August 12), which you say is 'under pressure to move, the repository of our sea heritage is fighting to survive'.

It is no secret that Hong Kong is obsessed with benchmarking itself with New York and London.

There are great 'civil' maritime museums in Lisbon, Amsterdam, Gothenburg, Sydney, Oslo, Hamburg (soon) and so on.

In reality, Hong Kong still has a long way to go to truly become a well-rounded metropolis similar to New York, Tokyo, Paris, London and Sydney. It's time to start seriously focusing on quality rather than quantity. Hong Kong's alive-and-kicking obsession with quantity has found its way into the latest idea of merging Hong Kong and Shenzhen into one global metropolis to rival New York and London.

Statistics and dimensions alone do not make New York and London bona fide global cities.

I have followed the West Kowloon cultural district debacle religiously. Here's an idea.

Why not build a spectacular maritime museum within the shelved glass canopy in addition to other art facilities within the cultural district? As many commentators in Hong Kong have been saying all along in this debate, it will take years to build up a genuine world-class art collection for Hong Kong as the art scene here has never been fully developed.

However, Hong Kong does have a rich maritime culture since all things seafaring are the genesis of Hong Kong. For a place with such a rich and important maritime heritage, it is a disgrace to have just the Hong Kong Maritime Museum and the Museum of Coastal Defence.

My humble idea of a spectacular maritime museum for Hong Kong can absorb those two museums, provide a permanent high-profile anchoring position for the junk Duk Ling, showcase the colourful history of Star Ferry/Victoria Harbour and beyond.

Since Hong Kong is pretty long on maritime culture, it should not take too long to build a truly world-class maritime museum.

Harrison Chang, Cologne, Germany