Closed-circuit TV helps the infamous Tsim Sha Tsui landmark take on new lease of life Once one of Tsim Sha Tsui's most vice-riddled estates, Chungking Mansions has cleaned up its act so much that now even the clergy are happy to stay there. The complex was infamous for the colourful types attracted to its low-cost guesthouses: some of its former occupants were simply undesirable. Now the prostitutes, drug dealers and gangsters who used to ply their various wares amid the warren of guesthouses are gone, replaced with closed-circuit televisions, security guards and a fresher, cleaner image. Assistant property manager Ko Ka-lok said: 'We started the project of restoring order to Chungking Mansions three years ago because there were simply too many crimes occurring here. 'It was so complicated. We had drug dealers and gangsters producing and selling fake banknotes living in the building.' The five blocks house 100 guesthouses, 800 flats and three floors of shops including a number of curry restaurants. In a bid to clean up its image, 208 closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras, worth $1 million, were installed and 30 guards were hired, many of them former police officers. A ceremony will be held today to officially launch the complex's new look, including renovations and enhanced security. Mr Ko said owners and tenants had all declared efforts to improve security a great success. 'We have even received praise from the police, as our CCTV has helped the force investigate a number of crimes,' he said. The cameras - installed in almost every corner of the 17-floor complex's public areas - helped police investigate drug trafficking, indecent assault, robbery and other cases. 'Now everybody knows their crimes will be videotaped here. There are no more gangsters' nests. Only new visitors will commit crimes [and they] are all minor ones here,' Mr Ko said. Sam Lau Kung-shing, chairman of the Tourist Guesthouse Federation of Hong Kong, said the centre had been converted to a heaven from a hell. 'There were prostitutes from China, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka loitering on the ground floor of the building, trying to do business. But you can't see any trace of them now,' Mr Lau said. Mr Lau, who once owned three guesthouses in the complex, now operates one, after shifting his base to the nearby Mirador Mansion. 'Today, 70 clergymen came to Hong Kong. While my guesthouses in Mirador Mansion are full, 40 of them have to stay in Chungking Mansions, and they love it,' he said. 'Would any clergymen have moved in there if the building's order was not good enough?' Property agents welcomed Chungking's facelift, which they said helped restore order and revived it as a Tsim Sha Tsui landmark. 'It was such an eyesore on Nathan Road. Its renovation has hugely improved the holistic image of the road,' said Stanley Poon Chi-ming, general manager at Centaline Property Agency's retail department. Rental of the building's retail shops had already increased 10 to 20 per cent on last year.