Hawker concern groups have criticised Secretary for Food and Health Ko Wing-man for not attending a Legislative Council meeting on Chinese New Year bazaar policies on Tuesday.

Groups and individuals who attended the subcommittee meeting said Ko’s absence showed that the government does not consider bazaar policies to be important.

Photo: Apple Daily.

The Yau Tsim Mong District Council rejected the government’s proposal of setting up temporary food stalls at the MacPherson Playground during the Lunar New Year holidays. The plan did not allow hawkers to use open fires and they would only be allowed to operate between 12pm and 2am.

District Councillor Andy Yu Tak-po slammed the government for not holding a consultation before asking the Council to vote.

MacPherson playground. Photo: Wikicommons.

Lawmaker Nathan Law Kwun-chung said street food hawking not only adds colour to the community, but also offers a channel for grassroots people to earn their own living.

The upcoming Lunar New Year will mark a year since the Mong Kok unrest, when the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department cracked down on the stalls. Police were later mobilised, triggering violent clashes between the authorities and protesters.

When asked whether the department will take enforcement action against unlicensed street hawkers, Diane Wong, the principal assistant secretary for Food and Health, said it is difficult to strike a balance between different stakeholders, as opinions remain divided over the crackdown on unlicensed vendors.

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Koel Chu

Koel Chu is a second-year journalism and fine arts student at the University of Hong Kong. Born and raised in Hong Kong, Koel is interested in the arts and urban design. She interned at China Radio International in Beijing and, at her university, she also works as Vice-President of Branding and Marketing in AIESEC, the largest youth-run organisation in the world.