West Kowloon the perfect place for street performers

The little utilised arts hub can accommodate buskers while the government works out a longer-term solution to license such acts

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 12 August, 2018, 8:34pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 12 August, 2018, 11:03pm

We pay senior bureaucrats so much money presumably so they can employ their superior intellects and experience to think ahead.

But oftentimes, even very simple problems such as the trouble with noisy buskers seem beyond them. You wonder how they could possibly address more pressing issues such as the lack of housing, rising poverty, developing science and technology and softening the blows from the Sino-American trade war.

After the government announced months ago with support from district politicians it would shut down the pedestrianised zone in Mong Kok and kicked out all the live performers, did bureaucrats think those buskers would just disappear and the problem would be solved?

Buskers from Mong Kok driven out of Tsim Sha Tsui by angry Hong Kong protesters

Sure enough, many just went elsewhere, with some making their way south to Tsim Sha Tsui, especially the Star Ferry pier, and causing disruptions every night.

With proper licencing and regulation, busking can add to the vibrancy of our city’s streets. Is it too much to expect the government to have come up with such a system before it evicted all the buskers?

Now, buskers complain they have nowhere to go; pier users think they are a nuisance. And for some inexplicable reason, the pro-independence alliance Students Independence Union has decided it is its mission to evict those buskers.

Why? Because they are illegally occupying public space; and what they offer amounts to “low quality performance”. Now that’s rich.

Our student separatists and/or their leaders had blocked Mong Kok, Admiralty and Causeway Bay for three long months in 2014 during the Occupy protests. You would think they might be more sympathetic to the plight of the buskers, given their history.

Is Tsim Sha Tsui the new Mong Kok for Hong Kong’s street performers?

Meanwhile, the opposition and its media allies have been defending separatist leader Andy Chan Ho-tin and his right to free speech. Doesn’t freedom of expression count for something? And since when have those student separatists become art critics with refined taste to decide what’s good and bad art?

It’s all very strange.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, give those buskers a temporary refuge, then work out a licencing system for the longer term.

But where to put them? Why, it’s a no-brainer.

As the former chief secretary, you were for a long time head of the West Kowloon arts hub project. At least now it could be of some use, after wasting so much public money and time.

Let buskers perform at the art hub, on stage and with props. They are Hong Kong citizens, too.