Hong Kong culture

It’s like Mong Kok, only worse. Councillor issues damning verdict as Hong Kong’s buskers take their performances to Star Ferry Pier

Andy Yu calls for urgent government meeting as some musicians say they may opt to showcase their talents in Tsim Sha Tsui seven days a week

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 05 August, 2018, 8:33pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 05 August, 2018, 10:41pm

A district councillor wants officials to find an urgent solution to an ­explosion in busking activities in Tsim Sha Tsui, calling the sudden increase in performers around the Star Ferry pier a “worse copy” of the former situation in Mong Kok.

After the official closure of the pedestrian zone on Sai Yeung Choi Street South in Mong Kok on Saturday, some performers had moved their acts to a public space outside the pier, upsetting some regular buskers who lost their places, and shopkeepers who complained about the increased noise levels.

District councillor Andy Yu Tak-po, a Civic Party member, said the situation could be worse at the ferry pier than in Mong Kok, as it was open to the public every day of the week, at all times.

“It is like a copy of Mong Kok,” Yu said on Sunday.

Before its closure, the pedestrian zone in Mong Kok was closed to vehicles during the weekends from noon to 10pm.

Some groups who relocated to the Tsim Sha Tsui area performed near a bus terminal, with loud speakers and amplifiers, only leaving at 11pm on Saturday.

The quiet did not last long, however, as some were already back on site by 1pm the next day.

At least two groups were performing outside the pier, while another two were active at the seafront near the clock tower.

A 59-year-old female singer, surnamed Li, placed her amplifier and electric keyboard near one of the entrances to the pier at 1pm, but did not start performing.

“If I come late there will be no space,” Li said, adding she had stayed at the pier until 10.30pm the day before. She said the noise level was similar to Mong Kok’s, adding: “If the government does not regulate this place, it will become another Mong Kok.”

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Another group of singers, which used to perform in Mong Kok, was seen arguing with employees of a non-government organisation over the use of a space. The situation was resolved when the singers agreed to move away.

A female worker of a newspaper stand, who did not want to give her name, said she preferred the younger buskers who frequented the pier before, as they were more organised and pleasant to listen to.

“I don’t know what they are singing, it is very loud,” the worker said of the newcomers.

Yu said he was told by some performers that they were planning to go to the pier in Tsim Sha Tsui every day of the week, ­warning the busking ­activity could affect the operation of the bus terminal nearby.

He also noted that the newcomers could drive away younger musicians who performed at the pier, with some going as far as ­saying they had “given up” performing in the area.

Yu urged the government to call an urgent meeting to discuss the issue, adding Star Ferry, bus operator KMB and the managers of a nearby shopping centre should also be involved in the long run. If the situation worsened, Yu said he would raise the issue in the next district council meeting on September 24.

The government has not responded to the Post’s inquiry about which department is responsible for managing the public space outside the pier.