Wing Lee Street is not worth saving from wrecker's ball

PUBLISHED : Monday, 29 March, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 29 March, 2010, 12:00am

There has been a heated debate about the future of Wing Lee Street in SoHo, with many Hongkongers calling for it to be preserved.

When looking at heritage sites, it is important to strike a balance between the need to redevelop urban areas and, at the same time, keep intact some parts of the city that are of historic interest. However, I do not believe it is a good idea to preserve Wing Lee Street.

Hong Kong is small. On a map of the world it is just a tiny dot. There is always an urgent need for more land, and living space is at a premium. There are still many people who have to live in cage dwellings, and some who are homeless and sleep in parks. Can we justify all preservation projects when so many people suffer in this way?

Hong Kong is a highly developed, cosmopolitan city and to maintain its position as a major financial centre it has to keep progressing and developing.

Many of us were reminded of Wing Lee Street's link with our past by the award-winning Hong Kong film Echoes of the Rainbow. Nobody wants to see the street destroyed, but I think some buildings in Hong Kong are much more historic and mean more to people - for example, Lei Cheng Uk Tomb, the Dr Sun Yat-sen Museum and the Kowloon Walled City Park.

Hong Kong is too small to keep every heritage site. That is why we should conserve the most important ones, and Wing Lee Street should not be on that list.

Opponents of the redevelopment proposals have argued that future generations will not be able to see an example of Hong Kong's history if the site is demolished.

However, there is a photographic record of buildings that were of architectural importance but have been demolished.

I hope officials will think carefully about all the issues regarding Wing Lee Street before a final decision is made.

Mercy Wong Chung-yan, Lok Fu