Mong Kok performers are history, but will Hong Kong learn its lesson?
The conversion of a Mong Kok street into a pedestrian zone with street performers nearly two decades ago was seen as putting Hong Kong culture in line with the West. Unfortunately, some of the acts were less street performance and more “freak show”. Why did it all go so terribly wrong?
First of all, just copying a successful Western model and transplanting it to Hong Kong without careful evaluation and planning for the desirable outcomes was the main problem, given the numerous noise complaints over the years.
The blame lies with not only the street performers, but also with those tasked with the management of the pedestrian zone. The finger should be pointed at the relevant Hong Kong government departments for failure to define criteria, conduct assessment of potential street performers and issue temporary permits for buskers to perform their acts, as well as carry out evaluation of these acts before renewing permits and issuing new ones.
Now that the zone is history, with questions being raised about the fate of the performers from Sai Yeung Choi Street South, it is critical that the Hong Kong not apply bureaucracy to the whole situation.
Watch: Mong Kok musicians silenced as council votes to bring calm to noisy street
So far, in typical Hong Kong government fashion, they have preferred the laissez-faire approach of not taking the initiative to think outside the box and come up with proper solutions.
Then, when the pressure of complaints became too much, our government did not attempt to correct the situation, preferring rather to use the “destructive solution” approach – closing the file by returning the pedestrian zone to a traffic zone.
I call on the government to take the initiative and act before other tourist and pedestrian areas with decent street performers are taken over by the Mong Kok rejects.
Leslie Lee, Sai Wan Ho