Who would have thought a rubber duck would stir such a frenzy? From news reports to social media, the giant inflatable is the talk of the town, drawing children and adults alike to the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront where the seaborne artwork is moored. Victoria Harbour is its 13th "port of call" around the world, after visits to cities including Osaka and Sydney. Shopping malls and restaurants in the area hope it will bring more customers. It has even become the highlight of a travel agency's art-cum-gourmet special day tour.
Exactly why a "sculpture" modelled on a child's bathtub toy becomes an instant sensation around the world is perhaps a worthy subject for sociologists. Admittedly, it is a heart-warming sweetie. The smiling faces crowding the harbourfront testify to its magic. As its Dutch creator, Florentijn Hofman, says, his 16.5-metre installation transcends frontiers, politics and ages. If local response is any reference, the duck appears to have united the public. It connects the people and uplifts spirits. It has, arguably, done a better job than the government's "Hong Kong Our Home" campaign, which aims to inject positive energy into society and foster social cohesion.
The duck has brought more than fond childhood memories and relief to city stress. Images of our magnificent skyline dwarfed by a bright yellow giant bathtub floatie are not merely a visual treat. That they have gone viral on social media is likely to stimulate more interest in our harbour, without which the attraction would have not been possible. As the artist hoped, it has successfully offered a new perspective on public space.
Having risen from a fishing village to one of the world's biggest ports, the city's maritime heritage cannot be overstated. Sadly, protection and enjoyment of the harbour still leave a lot to be desired. Our visiting friend is a good reminder to us to reflect and appreciate the things we often take for granted. The joy it brings owes much to our lovely harbour, which brings Hong Kong to the world.