21 October 2016
Mei Fong Restaurant posted a notice (inset) saying the free meal program had been  suspended. Photo: Wong He/Facebook
Mei Fong Restaurant posted a notice (inset) saying the free meal program had been suspended. Photo: Wong He/Facebook

Resident complaints force restaurant to stop giving free meals

A cha chaan teng (local tea restaurant) that has distributed vouchers for free meals to the needy over the last 18 months has been forced to suspend the program after police and a district councilor stepped in.

Mei Fong Restaurant, on Victory Avenue in Ho Man Tin, said district councilor Siu Leong-sing and the Police Public Relations Bureau (PPRB) told it last month they had received complaints from residents in the neigborhood that the daily giveaway operation caused hygiene and noise problems.

Chung Wai-fung, the restaurant’s owner, said he had no choice but to cease handing out free meal vouchers and he felt helpless that the decision whether to resume doing so did not rest with him, Ming Pao Daily reported Thursday.

He said artist Wong Hei proposed the idea of offering free meals to help the grass roots.

Donors pay the restaurant in advance to distribute vouchers daily to people in need.

The restaurant hands out about 15 to 20 meals each day, Apple Daily reported.

On April 15, Siu and the PPRB informed Chung of the complaints received from people living nearby.

Wong posted on his Facebook page that it is easy to understand why people might be jealous of others who are richer, but we now have people being jealous of others who are poorer. 

The post went viral on social media. 

A woman surnamed Wong, who works at a metals store opposite the restaurant, said she is not opposed to the idea of helping the underprivileged, but there were logistical issues, as many elderly people would gather or even lie down outside the shops nearby when they queued up for the vouchers. 

It was a form of torture, she said, that seniors have to queue up from around 10 a.m. each day and wait until 2:30 p.m. to find out if they could get one of the vouchers.

Lawmaker Frederick Fung Kin-kee, former chairman of the Hong Kong Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihood, said in a statement Wednesday night that after a fresh round of discussions with all parties involved, the restaurant will distribute free meal vouchers at an open space on nearby Peace Avenue at 2:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Thursday.

Siu said he hoped the new arrangements would minimize any nuisance caused to residents.

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