Operators lament that government is driving 'old Hong Kong' to extinction Century-old hawker stalls in upmarket Soho will soon be relegated to history because of the government's licensing policy. 'I always said you would see us in museums in 10 years' time,' said Mandy Li Wun-ching, operator of Elgin Street's Yuk Yip Dessert, a 90-year-old institution on the street. Yuk Yip Dessert and the dozen or so other hawker stalls along Peel and Elgin Street are among the oldest in Hong Kong. The dessert stall, famous for its low-priced sweet soup, will one day be facing the same destiny as its neighbour, the Man Yuen noodle shop, which was ordered to close by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department after its licensee died n May 5. Under the current policy, which dates back to 1970, if the holder of an urban 'fixed pitch' food hawker's licence dies, only their spouse is allowed to inherit the licence. The licensee's other immediate family members are excluded. Ms Li said the licence holder of the dessert shop was her mother, who is more than 70 years old. 'We have been running this business since my great grandfather's days,' said Ms Li. 'Now only the spouse can inherit the licence. Can you ask my mother to marry some young guy just for the shop? It's not possible. 'This is very unfair. The government keeps talking about protecting Hong Kong's heritage. Hong Kong doesn't have many traditional dai pai dong left. Why don't they protect us?' Li Kin-kwan, who runs the 80-year-old Man Yuen noodle shop, said the area had become one of the district's biggest tourist attractions. May Lui Lai-yee, who runs an antique jewellery store in the area, said most of the licensees were more than 70 years old. 'One day this street will have no character. There might be another place built to imitate this area but it won't be the same thing,' she said. Dominic Chan Hoi-hi, a Central and Western District councillor, said the food stalls should be preserved. 'It's the public's collective memory and a great tourist attraction. Such a policy should be reviewed,' said Mr Chan. But catering-sector legislator Tommy Cheung Yu-yan said the public had diverse opinions about the hawker stalls. 'Personally I hope they can stay but I can't see this is the majority's opinion,' said Mr Cheung. 'It's a very difficult dilemma as the public are also concerned about the hygiene conditions of dai pai dong.'