Market tenant on hunger strike to get air cons

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 12 August, 2011, 12:00am


A stall holder at Aberdeen Market began a hunger strike yesterday to challenge a decision by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department not to install air conditioning in the market.

The decision was made after more than half the market tenants said they would not pay higher rents, which could double with the extra electricity bill.

Now, Ching Lok-suen, who has leased a stall at the market for two years, has threatened to launch a judicial review and is appealing for support from operators of about 300 stalls. He began the hunger strike at the market.

'Business remains very poor in the summer as shoppers don't want to go into the market, which is not air-conditioned,' he said. He estimated business plummeted at least 20 per cent during summer.

He first sold meat at the market, but because the heat caused it to rot quickly, he switched to dried food.

Ching said the department estimated rents could jump by HK$500 to HK$4,300 a month, depending on the size of the stall. He said the department needed support from at least 85 per cent of tenants to raise rents and install air conditioning.

Ching said temperatures could rise to as high as 40 degrees Celsius in the indoor market during summer. 'That is completely unbearable,' said Ching, who started the hunger strike at 4.30pm yesterday.

A Food and Environmental Hygiene Department spokesman said last night that tenants had to bear the cost of air conditioning. Only 30 of the 77 markets managed by the department had air conditioning.