Shaw House should be museum devoted to Hong Kong cinema

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 June, 2015, 5:50pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 June, 2015, 5:50pm

I refer to the report about the Shaw Studios site in Clear Water Bay ("Just one building in Hong Kong's Shaw Studios proposed for top heritage grading", June 4).

Heritage preservation has always been a battlefield in Hong Kong. While conservationists demand more action from the government to save old buildings, officials often realise they have no statutory power to halt heritage demolition by developers. Given the failure to preserve HoTung Gardens, it is good to know that Shaw House will be saved from the bulldozers.

However, I have noticed that more historic buildings are disappearing, I feel an urgent need to speak up against the city's ruthless urban development that rarely pays respect to local heritage and leaves no traces of our past.

The redevelopment of the Shaw Studios is sad news to citizens.

It is proposed that the iconic studio complex be turned into a private residential and commercial complex for the happy few, and so it is likely to be gated from the public. If only Shaw House gets a grade one listing [as has been recommended], this does not reflect the true spirit of heritage preservation. Keeping individual buildings intact is only the first step.

The essence is to keep their narrative alive. What should really be preserved are memories, the heart and soul of the buildings.

Being from the post-1990s generation, I do not have vivid memories of Shaw Studios. But I did some research and realised that the studios, where thousands of films were produced, made a significant contribution to the golden age of the Hong Kong film industry. Shaw House, often featured as a tranquil hospital, holds special memories for local TV drama fans, especially those from my parents' generation.

Hong Kong was hailed as the "Hollywood of the East", and we Hongkongers took pride in our local film productions. Certainly, Shaw House deserves a better new life to narrate its glorious past. Instead of being used for commercial purposes, including a kindergarten, as proposed by the developers, perhaps it could be turned into a museum devoted to the local film industry.

It can become an attractive educational and leisure destination that would diversify the character of the neighbourhood, benefit nearby schools and become an asset of which Hong Kong can be proud.

Tiffany Tang, Urban Discovery