A park in Tuen Mun will axe its self-entertainment zones after thousands took to the streets on Saturday to protest against the “dai mas” – women accused of disturbing the neighbourhood with singing and dancing.

The Tuen Mun District Council unanimously passed a motion on Tuesday to scrap the two areas of the park designated for performances. Later that day, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) announced that the zones will close in September.

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Thousands march towards Tuen Mun park to oppose “dai ma” and noise pollution. Photo: Stand News.

However, there is a backlog of 139 approved applications for performances before the zone’s closure, which will go on as scheduled.

On Saturday, over 10,000 marched in opposition to the “dai mas,” criticising the women – who are often middle-aged mainlanders – for causing nuisance to residents and park-goers. There were also allegations of “dai mas” dancing suggestively with their audience, which mainly consisted of older men, and receiving money in return.

The Tuen Mun Park Sanitation Concern Group, which helped organise the march, said the self-entertainment zones had caused a disturbance in the neighbourhood for a decade. There was insufficient enforcement action from the LCSD, and the District Council did not take the issue seriously, the group said.

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Tuen Mun District Council meeting. Photo: Stand News.

“The DAB and Federation of Trade Unions hold most of the seats and control the [District Council], but wasted 10 years of everyone’s time. It was not until the people took to the streets that they pretended to be part of the solution,” the group said in a statement on Tuesday, in reference to pro-Beijing political parties.

The zones were not part of the park’s original layout, but were added in 2006 with the condition that loudspeakers would not be used.

At the Tuesday District Council meeting, the motion to cancel the zones was backed by all 25 councillors from both pro-democracy and pro-establishment camps.

Many criticised the government for failing to regulate activities in Tuen Mun Park. Kong Fung-yi from the pro-democracy Hong Kong Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihood said the park had become a “den of vice” due to the negligence of the LCSD and the police.

The pro-Beijing New People Party’s Kam Man-fung said that the LCSD should cancel the zones as soon as possible, instead of waiting for an amendment to the Pleasure Grounds Regulation.

Tuen mun park dai ma dance perform
A performance at Tuen Mun Park.

The LCSD previously said that it had received 342 complaints in relation to performances at Tuen Mun Park, of which 80 per cent were noise complaints. The rest involved indecent behaviour and people receiving monetary rewards.

Police enforcement in question

Some district councillors on Tuesday also questioned the role of the police, saying that there were complaints related to Tuen Mun Park that were left unaddressed.

Deputy Commander of Tuen Mun District Ngan Yuen-yee said the police received complaints about “dai mas” on June 7, but the operation failed because of difficulties in collecting evidence.

Complaints on June 9 could not be handled because many police officers ordinarily stationed in Tuen Mun were redeployed to deal with the large-scale demonstrations on the day, Ngan added.

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Protesters in Tuen Mun take to the streets on the evening of July 6. Photo: inmediahk.net.

Ngan was also questioned about the use of pepper spray by officers on Saturday. At the time, demonstrators clashed with a man who was accused of assaulting marchers. The man was later escorted away by police to a taxi outside the nearby V City shopping mall, but a group of protesters chased after him and tried to stop the taxi from leaving.

Police displayed a red warning flag and used pepper spray against demonstrators, which led some to chant slogans criticising the police for selective law enforcement.

Ngan said police escorted the man away because there were fears about his safety, since he was surrounded by about 30 protesters. The use of pepper spray did not contravene regulations, she added.

Police said they made no arrests on Saturday in relation to the Tuen Mun protests.

Holmes Chan is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. He covers local news with a focus on law, politics, and social movements. He studied law and literature at the University of Hong Kong.