Yau Tsim Mong’s District Council has rejected a proposal to set up temporary food stalls at the MacPherson Playground during the first three days of Lunar New Year. The motion, proposed by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD), was rejected on Thursday with a tally of nine votes against and eight votes in support.

The upcoming Lunar New Year will mark one year since Mong Kok unrest, when clashes between protesters and police broke out over the government’s clearance of street hawkers. Dozens were arrested by the authorities in the aftermath.

MacPherson playground. Photo: Wikicommons.

See also: HKFP Lens: Protesters light fires during clashes in Mong Kok, Part 1/2

The proposal suggested 40 food stalls, measuring three metres by three metres. Hawkers would not be allowed to use open fires and would only be allowed to cook food with electric hobs. They would also only be allowed to operate between 12pm and 2am.

While many district councillors supported the idea of food stalls, some disagreed with the location, saying that residents were unhappy with the choice. District Councillor Chow Chun-fai said that nearby residents were unhappy about the amount of noise that could be produced and local stores were concerned about losing business.

Food hawkers, who were embroiled in the unrest earlier this year. Photo: Kris Cheng, HKFP.

There were also concerns that there would not be enough time left to for hawkers to prepare for the event.

Diane Wong, the principal assistant secretary for Food and Health, told local media that the FEHD would respect the decision and said that the department was open to considering other locations.

Chantal Yuen

Chantal Yuen is a Hong Kong journalist interested in issues dealing with religion and immigration. She majored in German and minored in Middle Eastern studies at Princeton University.