Four Mong Kok district councillors from a pro-Beijing party have proposed a motion to look into shutting down the pedestrian zone in Sai Yeung Choi Street, citing complaints about the noise from street performances.

The motion was proposed by Chan Siu-tong, Francis Chong, Wong Kin-san and Wong Shu-ming from the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong. The motion said that, since the implementation of the pedestrian zone in 2000, the councillors had received countless noise complaints.

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Sai Yeung Choi Street South on a weekday evening. Photo: Karen Cheung/HKFP.

The motion asked the Home Affairs Bureau to look for a suitable location in Hong Kong to re-open the pedestrian zone. The matter will be debated at the district council meeting next Thursday.

The street was first designated as a pedestrian zone in August 2000 in order to ease traffic during rush hour. Vehicles were banned from the street from 4pm to 10pm Mondays to Saturdays, and from noon to 10pm on public holidays.

It soon became a popular open space that attracted scores of buskers, performers and photographers, but many residents complained about the noise. In 2013, the district council voted to open the street to traffic on weekdays, and since early 2014, the pedestrian zone has been restricted to weekends and public holidays.

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One of the “singing stalls” in Mong Kok. Photo: Karen Cheung/HKFP.

In recent years, “karaoke singers” on the street have been the subject of much debate. Reporters have found that groups running karaoke stalls often charge performers to use their equipment.

Street performer Tony Lui Yuet-tin applied for a judicial review in 2014, claiming that the government failed to properly carry out an impact assessment in relation to the pedestrians and transport and that the district council’s questionnaires on the issue were not representative. He lost the case at the High Court last month.

The district councillors’ motion stated that, as a judgement has been handed down in the case, the government should review the issues concerning the pedestrian zone.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.