image

Urban planning

Mong Kok buskers plan next move as closure of Hong Kong pedestrian zone nears

Popular pedestrian zone on busy Sai Yeung Choi Street South will close after 18 years but the show is far from over for entertainers

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 July, 2018, 7:00pm
UPDATED : Friday, 27 July, 2018, 9:52pm

The music will soon be over for buskers in one of Hong Kong’s busiest shopping districts but its most popular street performer – a self-proclaimed title – is looking forward to a last hurrah there with tens of thousands expected to visit the area this weekend.

The closure of the pedestrian zone along Mong Kok’s Sai Yeung Choi Street South takes effect next Saturday after numerous noise complaints from residents and shop owners. Entertainers will now have to take their shows elsewhere.

The road, which has been closed to traffic during specific periods of the week for 18 years, will be open around the clock for vehicles.

Performer “Mong Kok Law Man” said he was expecting 700 fans each night for this final weekend.

“It was already a ‘full house’ last week, people could hardly walk, it was pretty ridiculous,” said the 57-year-old, who styled himself after late Canto-pop legend Roman Tam Pak-sin, whose stage name was “Law Man”.

Aside from his adoring local fans, Mong Kok Law Man said a small group was flying in from overseas to catch his finals shows on his patch of Sai Yeung Choi Street South.

Like many other performers, Mong Kok Law Man and his crew are also planning their next move.

“I am quite optimistic. I am confident that I can keep my audience,” he said, adding that he would continue performing at another location in Mong Kok that was “far away from residential buildings”.

Another performer known as Kim Hung, who fronts the group Hung Lok Goon, said he was not planning anything special this weekend but was also expecting a larger turnout than usual.

After the zone closes for good, Kim Hung said his group would perform at indoor venues, as well as in public spaces in Tsim Sha Tsui, another busy tourist and shopping area about 2.5km from Mong Kok.

18 years of raucous Hong Kong street entertainment to end on July 29

Yau Tsim Mong district councillor Andy Yu Tak-po, who was against the zone being scrapped, said it would take a few weeks to see what performers ended up doing.

Yu, of the Civic Party, said dozens of buskers remained in Mong Kok, and could make their way to Causeway Bay, Tsim Sha Tsui and other destinations.

A few groups, usually featuring mainland Chinese female singers, had already started popping up near Tsim Sha Tsui’s Star Ferry Pier, a tourist hotspot.

Yu said he expected peak hourly pedestrian flow of more than 20,000 on Sai Yeung Choi Street South at the weekend.

“I think it could be the most crowded days [we’d have experienced] in the past six months,” he said.

Fellow district councillor Derek Hung Chiu-wah, whose constituency covers the Star Ferry Pier, said his office had received more noise complaints concerning the pier this month.

Hong Kong pedestrian zone to be scrapped after complaints about street performers

“If the government has no laws to regulate performances, the issues and disturbance are only moving from Mong Kok to other areas,” he said.

Hung, of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said he would keep a close eye on the situation in the coming weeks and make more frequent contact with police.

In May, Yau Tsim Mong district council passed a motion to support axing the zone.

The move came after residents made more than 1,200 noise and obstruction complaints to authorities last year.