Mong Kok riot

Hong Kong authorities studying other locations for Lunar New Year food bazaar after Mong Kok plan rejected

After proposal for street food hawkers at Macpherson Playground was voted down by district council, secretary for food and health says other venues could be on the cards, following violence in February over crackdown on sellers

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 27 November, 2016, 9:28pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 27 November, 2016, 10:28pm

With the Lunar New Year fast approaching, Secretary for Food and Health Dr Ko Wing-man said the government was looking into the feasibility of setting up a food bazaar in another location after its plan for one in Mong Kok was voted down.

Last week Yau Tsim Mong district council rejected the government’s proposal to organise a food bazaar at Macpherson Playground by a razor-thin margin – with eight councillors supporting it and nine opposing.

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Ko said on Sunday the government was now studying if the bazaar could be held at another location.

“Different district councillors have suggested different locations. Our colleagues will look at the feasibility and consult other government departments to find out if they think there are problems with those locations,” he said.

“The most important thing is that, it all comes down to the district councils in the end ... because the councils understand best what residents think.”

For many years, hawkers have lined the streets of Mong Kok and Sham Shui Po during the Lunar New Year. But in February the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department cracked down on illegal street food sellers, which triggered a night of violence in Mong Kok.

Our colleagues will look at the feasibility and consult other government departments
Secretary for Food and Health Dr Ko Wing-man

The proposal marks the government’s first attempt to legalise street food businesses during the festivities, after many years of tolerating them.

Under the government’s plan, a food bazaar would be set up from January 28 to 30 to accommodate 40 hawkers. Only electricity would be allowed for cooking facilities.

Yau Tsim Mong district council chairman Chris Ip Ngo-tung said earlier that Mong Kok residents were “unanimously opposed” to the proposal, and that investors were also not keen as only electricity would be permitted.

Asked if the government would simply tolerate the illegal hawkers during the coming Chinese festivities, Ko said they posed safety concerns because many people would walk past the hawkers who cook with boiling oil.