Pai lau - colourful signs bedecked with paper flowers - have adorned Hong Kong on festive or auspicious occasions for as long as anyone can remember. But now, one of the last practitioners of this traditional craft may have to go out of business because he has been evicted from the flat where he plied his trade in Sham Shui Po. Wong Nai-chung, who was forcibly moved from the 1,000 sq ft flat on July 13 to make way for redevelopment, talks about his years making pai lau and his fears for the future. 'My father was a craftsman who made pai lau for at least 50 years. He started in Guangzhou, then moved to Hong Kong. The business passed to me after he died in 1987. When I was in primary school, I stood near my father to learn the skills. I went into the industry when I was about 20. His stall was in the Kowloon Walled City but we moved to Un Chau Estate in Sham Shui Po in 1982. Our pai lau business operated on the estate for 18 years before I moved to Fuk Wing Street. I was very happy during the time I spent there as I had a good relationship with neighbours. We talked and shared what we did in our daily lives. Some neighbours shared their grievances with me. They treated me like the social worker of Un Chau Estate. We were also very co-operative. If one person had problems, neighbours were willing to help. I was happy to have such friendly neighbours. 'Pai lau are traditionally used for celebrations, for example Lunar New Year or the birthday of Tin Hau. The good times were between the 1970s and 1990s. Almost all the shops used pai lau, for example Chinese restaurants used them for promotional purposes such as a person's wedding or birthday. Cha chaan teng, wet-market vendors and salons used pai lau for announcements like business expansions and company anniversaries. The largest pai lau my father made was 40 feet wide and about four storeys high, covering the fronts of two shops. 'I need about three weeks to make a pai lau. The main steps are writing the words, cutting and pasting paper, fixing the backdrop to the bamboo framework, putting on a red cloth and setting up lights. People read the words from top to bottom and right to left. 'I was sad to leave Sham Shui Po. I was moved by the support from my neighbours on the last day in Fuk Wing Street after we had such good times together for so many years. It was heartbreaking. Now it seems strange to go back to Sham Shui Po as I am no longer a part of it and feel uncomfortable. After more than three decades in the business, it would be hard for me to find a job in another field. I would have to start from the beginning. I would like to continue my father's business until I am no long able to do it.' Another of the other few remaining pai lau makers is Chan Oi-man, 48, who makes the colourful signs on the outlying island of Cheung Chau. He also learned from his father and has run the business for 13 years. 'My father operated his pai lau stall in Cheung Chau for almost three decades. Before that he was a janitor at a school, but his calligraphy was so good that he made use of it to set up his business. There is a demand for pai lau on the island, as there are several hundred organisations and groups such as neighbourhood welfare organisations. 'Pai lau in Cheung Chau are different from those in urban areas. They are a bridge for communication among villagers and the local organisations. 'One of the best times for our business was when our local windsurfer, Lee Lai-shan, won Hong Kong's Olympic gold medal in 1996. At that time, my father made more than 20 sets of pai lau for different organisations that wanted to congratulate her. 'However, my business has been hit hard in the past three years. The requirements for hanging up pai lau in the street have become so strict. I have to send the applications to the government a month beforehand. But sometimes, Cheung Chau residents want us to make pai lau within two weeks. 'I think I am the last generation of my father's business. I will not pass it on to the next generation, as the business is quite hard to operate. I hope I can still continue to operate if I have enough money. When Cheung Chau residents do not need pai lau, my business will be closed.'