Date
17 October 2018
Thousands of viewers and performers occupy part of the Sai Yeung Choi Street South on the last day of Mong Kok Pedestrian Precinct on Sunday. Photo: HKEJ
Thousands of viewers and performers occupy part of the Sai Yeung Choi Street South on the last day of Mong Kok Pedestrian Precinct on Sunday. Photo: HKEJ

Mong Kok buskers make last hurrah after 18 years of fun

The pedestrian zone on Sai Yeung Choi Street South in Mong Kok ended its 18 years of deafening and dizzying presence in a final explosion of loud music, dancing and performances.

At 10 p.m. on Sunday, as per the order of the government, the buskers packed up their instruments and paraphernalia and consigned the Mong Kok Pedestrian Precinct to history and the collective memory of the people, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

Since 2000, the pedestrian zone had drawn all sorts of street performers, who created so much noise that they have become a nuisance to shops owners, pedestrians and residents.

The Transport Department had restricted the opening hours of the zone to weekends and public holidays since Jan. 20, 2014, but the move failed to stop complaints of noise pollution and congestion in the neighborhood.

Following a vote in favor of shutting it down on May 24 by the Yau Tsim Mong District Council and the results of a public consultation, the department announced earlier this month that the zone will be abolished and reopened to vehicular traffic from Aug. 4.

On Sunday, street performers began their shows as early as 2 p.m., and their audience, clearly greater in number than usual, swarmed on the zone to witness their last hurrah.

The scene was so explosive that it looked like the climax of a huge celebration, the joy mixed with sentimentality as both the viewers and performers realized that it was to be the last.

Vincent Ng Wing-shun, chairman of the Harbourfront Commission, told a TVB program that he had heard some buskers are planning to shift the venue of their performances to the waterfront promenade in Tsim Sha Tsui.

While Ng said doing so many cause much less disturbance to private residential estates because of its location, he promised to keep a close eye on the development, noting that the situation that had prompted the government to abolish the Mong Kok pedestrian zone should not be allowed to happen again.

Ng said his commission will study whether introducing a licensing system for regulatory purposes may do the trick.

A veteran busker who had been singing in the pedestrian zone for more than 10 years said his amateur group does not intend to relocate to Tsim Sha Tsui, partly because they don’t have enough money to transport their audio system and other equipment to the planned venue every week.

The leader of a popular dancing and singing group in the zone vowed to find another place to make a fresh start but claimed Tsim Shan Tsui is not an option because it is too small and unlikely to attract many spectators.

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TL/JC/CG

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