Cut back red tape and food trucks can be in Hong Kong next week

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 June, 2016, 3:48pm
UPDATED : Friday, 17 June, 2016, 3:48pm

Recently, the commerce and economic development secretary, Greg So Kam-leung, made a duty visit to London, to look at the operations of their food trucks, in preparation for the Hong Kong roll-out. It would seem he learnt nothing while there.

London’s food trucks are already operating very successfully based on clear and simple guidelines. In the meantime, Hong Kong’s nascent scheme is already mired in a bureaucratic bog.(“Competition red hot for food trucks with 192 bids for licence”, June 3).

Why are only 16 licences available? Even as a trial number this is ridiculously low. One street block in Mong Kok could accommodate that many. Yet these 16 will be spread among eight districts. That will make them as rare as hen’s teeth, hardly the “good tourism project” that Mr So claims.

Why the complex selection process? First a committee will shortlist applicants, then “10 veteran professionals” will make the final choices. The mind boggles.

What’s wrong with letting customers decide whose food is delicious and whose is rubbish? Allow more truck licences, then it’s sink or swim based on what customers want.

Because of all this central planning, it will take until next year for Hong Kong’s food trucks to hit the streets. This is insane. The food truck industry is hardly cutting-edge rocket science. It is well understood. If the government simply set out clear guidelines and let them at it, as in London, there would be trucks on the streets next week.

Simon Wong Ka-wo, of the Federation of Restaurants and Related Trades, says this is “too many monks, too little gruel”. And why is that? Because “too many cooks spoil the gruel”, to adapt an English saying.

Our government once prided itself on a can-do attitude based on positive non-interventionism. It is sad that it has now sunk to such bathetic bureaucratic bungling.

Peter Forsythe, Discovery Bay