How to put Bruce Lee's former home to best use

December 06, 2018 18:10
A file photo shows people placing flowers at the Bruce Lee statue on the Avenue of Stars in Tsim Sha Shui. Photo: HK Govt

November 27 marked the 78th birth anniversary of the late Hong Kong kung-fu legend Bruce Lee Siu-lung.

Peng Zhibing, a grandson of the late philanthropist Yu Pengnian and director-general of the Yu Pengnian Charitable Foundation, which currently owns Lee’s former home in Kowloon Tong, recently gave an interview to HKEJ in which he vowed, just as his grandfather did, that he would never sell the mansion.

Meanwhile, Peng unveiled a plan to restore Lee’s home and turn it into a center for sinological studies, where Putonghua, radio broadcasting and Chinese musical instrument classes will reportedly be offered.

However, the plan has raised concerns as to whether the project would become politicized.
In particular, if carried out not carefully enough, Peng's plan to restore Lee’s former home might end up being misunderstood by the public as a deceptive stunt to use the iconic premises to promote Putonghua, or even national education propaganda.

According to some of the details of Peng’s proposal, it appears he is planning to give the mansion a complete facelift, after which only an original wall painting picture will be preserved.

That means once the restoration project is completed, Lee’s house may not be recognizable at all, I believe.

In my view, the best way to prevent the project from becoming a well-intended flop is for Peng to take the lead in forming an advisory board on conserving Lee’s former home.

There need not be too many members on the advisory board, but the body itself must be broadly representative and have common touch, i.e. there must be local well-versed Bruce Lee fans on the board, while government officials or prominent public figures should take a backseat.

As far as the direction of how to conserve the mansion is concerned, the premises don’t intentionally have to be turned into a center for Chinese studies.

The highest principle would be that the project would strive to preserve as many original features of Lee’s home as possible, in order to debunk any conspiracy theory that there is a hidden agenda behind the plan.

In my opinion, it would be the best outcome if Lee’s home can be turned into a museum tea house run in the model of a social enterprise, where Bruce Lee memorabilia, books, etc collected from around the world will be on exhibition.

If this happens, the museum will become the undisputed holy land for Bruce Lee fans across the globe.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Dec 5

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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HKEJ contributor