Heritage conversation is not a priority in Hong Kong where the profit motive prevails

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 May, 2018, 3:04pm
UPDATED : Monday, 07 May, 2018, 3:04pm

I am writing to express my concerns about cultural preservation. Hong Kong has many heritage sites that have high cultural value, but they all face the risk of being destroyed or damaged. 

To start with, many heritage sites have been destroyed or damaged over the past few years because the grading system does not prevent the buildings from being demolished, but only helps determine their heritage value. For example, the government granted permission for the Shaw Brothers Studio site to be turned into two hotels and low-rise residential buildings in 2014.

The different fates of two heritage buildings Hong Kong government saved 

Moreover, conservation is always at the mercy of government funding and government policy. Heritage sites have been left to the whims of property developers eager to launch large-scale, expensive developments. Both the government and property developers are interested in projects that can yield the largest profit. 

Last, but not least, many heritage buildings are destroyed because they are deemed unsafe. Since these structures were built when Hong Kong was a British colony or even before, some of them are at risk of collapsing and must be demolished to protect the safety of nearby residents. 

Lessons for Hong Kong in Shanghai’s conservation of old buildings

The government should do more for cultural preservation, such as holding exhibitions on Hong Kong’s heritage, and widen the definition of “heritage” to protect both graded historical sites and heritage neighbourhoods. 

Nicole Wong, Diamond Hill