Organiser of Hong Kong hawker bazaar calls for streamlined procedures for holding street markets

Operator complains that different government departments own different venues and have varied requirements and standards for processing applications

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 September, 2016, 7:25pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 September, 2016, 10:36pm

Organisers of a hawkers’ bazaar held on Saturday in Sham Shui Po have renewed calls for the government to streamline the application process for holding street markets.

The market at Maple Street playground operated from noon to 7pm, featuring a variety of goods, as well as game booths and live music performances.

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Lee Kwok-kuen of co-organiser Concerning CSSA and Low Income Alliance said NGOs faced great difficulties organising legal hawkers’ markets because different government departments owned different venues and had varied requirements and standards for processing applications.

He said the group had failed twice in applications to the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and only succeeded this time with the help of the local district council.

He added that the department would not tell the alliance which venues were available, making each application a guessing game.

He urged the government to streamline its procedures so markets could be held regularly and benefit those without a licence and grass-root consumers.

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In Sham Shui Po, many unlicensed hawkers start their operations at about 4am and close their stalls before 7am to avoid enforcement officers.

Hawker activity has been ­restricted since the 1970s, when the colonial government stopped issuing new licences and began limiting the transfer of existing documents.

Yip Wai-yuen, 65, opens a stall every day selling second-hand groceries. But almost every day, officers come and chase him away, he says.

Living with his wife and three grown-up children in a 150-square-foot subdivided unit, Yip said he wanted to make some money to help support the family because his children did not make much every month.

“I wish there could be legal markets for us to ease our fears,” Yip said. “I’m very afraid of the [officers].”