Mr Justice Zervos: you're called to the bar
From where Public Eye lives we can see a building opposite the former Central Police Station/Magistracy complex where a third-floor terrace has been turned into an open-air restaurant that projects music videos onto the side wall of an adjoining building. The music is so loud that we can hear it on the other side of the vast complex. It's worst on weekends when the thumping noise goes well into the night. Hundreds of families in the area have to suffer not only this but the collective blast of music from other bars in the area. Complaints to the police bring little joy. We once had to soothe a distraught mother who called the police well after midnight to complain about live music from a bar, which was keeping her child awake. Public Eye went to the louder bars on several occasions to tell them they were breaching licensing conditions by keeping their windows and doors open well into the night. Most times we were told to buzz off. Our threats of calling the police resulted in taunts to "go ahead". Perhaps Mr Justice Kevin Zervos would like to experience the noise himself before he continues his crusade from the bench for these bars. It is puerile to say the bars are in a commercial district. There is no such thing in Hong Kong. Everywhere is a mix of residential and commercial buildings. Some bars occupy the ground floors of residential buildings. How they got liquor licences, we don't know. We extend an open invitation to Zervos to visit the area. If he finds the racket unbearable we'll gladly provide earplugs.
And if you complain about noise, there's a catch-22
Hong Kong's noise laws are a joke. They haven't been updated in decades. Bars with outside speakers blare out music well into the middle of the night in areas like Wyndham Street and Hollywood Road, where there are residential buildings. The police tell us to complain to the Environmental Protection Department, which tells us to complain to the police.
Vile protest gave leaders the jolt they needed
Public Eye wrote elsewhere in this newspaper a few weeks back that the recent Canton Road protest against mainland visitors, vile as it was, needed to happen. We were rebuked by some for saying that. But as we said then, what better way to yank complacent policymakers back into reality than to sock them between the eyes? The repugnance of the Canton Road protest did exactly that. It jolted not only local but mainland leaders into singing a different song. Suddenly, their chorus has gone from "the more visitors the better for our economy" to "the visitor flood could further worsen friction between Hongkongers and mainlanders". That's what we've long warned but officials ridiculed us. Now that even the head of the National People's Congress, Zhang Dejiang , has admitted we have an urgent problem, Public Eye expects our smug policymakers to get off their butts and earn their oversized salaries. Let's have no more crass comments from officials like commerce minister Greg So Kam-leung, who ludicrously said if you can't board an MTR train due to the crush of mainlanders, you should wait for the next one. Comments like that are especially hard to swallow when they come from someone with a chauffeur-driven car paid for by the people.