The government has suggested shutting down the pedestrianised zone at Mong Kok’s Sai Yeung Choi Street South on August 4.

The street was first designated as a pedestrian zone in August 2000 to ease traffic during rush hour. Vehicles were banned from the street between 4pm to 10pm from Monday to Saturday, and from noon to 10pm on public holidays. It soon became a popular open, public space, attracting buskers, performers and photographers. But many residents have complained about the noise.

The Yau Tsim Mong District Council voted to shut down the pedestrianised zone in May. The motion was supported by pro-Beijing camp district councillors.

Mong Kok Sai Yeung Choi street pedestrian zone
Mong Kok’s Sai Yeung Choi street pedestrian zone. File Photo:

In a new paper sent to the District Council for a Thursday meeting, the Transport Department said local consultation had been conducted through the Home Affairs Department.

A total of 697 letters were sent to individual residents, resident groups and building managers, shops, and the chair of the District Council’s Yau Tsim Mong North Area Committee, among others.

The Transport Department said that 154 replies were received, of which 97 per cent supported shutting down the pedestrianised zone.

It also said the Yau Tsim Mong North Area Committee unanimously supported shutting down the zone at a meeting in June.

See more: From buskers to off-key karaoke singers: The public space debate at the heart of Mong Kok’s pedestrian zone

Mong Kok Sai Yeung Choi street pedestrian zone
Mong Kok’s Sai Yeung Choi street pedestrian zone (In grey). Photo: GovHK.

The Department said that, after considering the District Council’s opinion and the public consultation, the suggestion to shut the zone will be implemented. It said it will arrange a notice on the official Gazette, remove relevant traffic signs and amend traffic lights, so that the zone can be terminated on August 4.

Civic Party District Councillor Andy Yu, who opposed shutting down the zone, told HKFP that the government has to resolve the issue of street performers in the long run, instead of simply cancelling the policy it introduced.

“Without a long-term policy to regulate and to issue [performing] licences, Causeway Bay and Tsim Sha Tsui will be pedestrian zones 2.0. The problem will simply shift to other areas,” he said.

Andy Yu
Andy Yu. File Photo:

Meanwhile, he said the small number of letters sent may have been acceptable if the government was trying to obtain opinion from the area’s 20,000-odd constituents. But he said similar surveys in the area, such as those conducted by power company CLP Group, usually collected around 1,000 replies.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.