The kitchen barge of the iconic Jumbo Floating Restaurant has sunk just two days after its parent company announced that the landmark would be moved out of Hong Kong in June.

jumbo sank
The kitchen section of the Jumbo Kingdom floating restaurant sank on May 31, 2022, days before it was scheduled to be moved out of Hong Kong. Photo: Supplied.

Police received a report about a sinking ship at the Aberdeen typhoon shelter at around 11 p.m. on Tuesday night, RTHK reported. No injuries or deaths were reported. The sinking section was connected to the Jumbo Floating Restaurant and was believed to be the kitchen barge.

The restaurant ceased operations in March 2020, during the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic. Its parent company, Jumbo Kingdom, announced on Monday that the fleet will be moved out of Hong Kong after its operating license expires in June, as it could not find a new operator to take over.

jumbo floating restaurant
The Jumbo Floating Restaurant. Photo: GovHK.

The floating restaurant, which was built in the 1970s, was a popular tourist attraction and a landmark in the city’s southern district.

Jumbo Kingdom, which operated Jumbo Floating Restaurant and the Tai Pak Floating Restaurant, has served more than 30 billion customers over the decades, according to its website.

Many people have expressed sadness following the announcement of the fleet’s departure, with some even creating artwork to commemorate the cultural icon.

Calls for preservation

Seven lawmakers, including Reverend Peter Koon, the tourism sector’s Yiu Pak-leung and Kenneth Fok from the cultural sector, launched a petition on Wednesday urging the government to come up with a revitalisation plan for the landmark, which they called “a collective memory for Hongkongers.”

jumbo floating restaurant
The Jumbo Floating Restaurant. Photo: GovHK.

The Democratic Party on Monday also issued a statement calling on the government to step in. The party’s chairman Lo Kin-hei, who formerly headed the Southern District Council, said maintenance costs were likely the biggest concern for a potential new operator. He said government subsidies could draw in more organisations or groups to help preserve the historic icon.

Lo also questioned why the authorities gave up so easily despite Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s pledge to revitalise the floating restaurant as part of the government’s Invigorating Island South initiative in her 2020 policy address.

Carrie Lam
Chief Executive Carrie Lam met the press on May 31, 2022. Photo: Lea Mok/HKFP.

In the policy blueprint, Lam said the vessel’s owner had agreed to donate it to Ocean Park and that the government would “facilitate the collaboration between Ocean Park and NGOs for the rebirth of the floating restaurant.”

Following the company’s announcement of closure, Lam told a group of reporters on Tuesday that it was no one’s fault that the deal between Jumbo Kingdom and Ocean Park fell through. But she said the government would not pump public money to help keep the fleet afloat just because she mentioned it in the policy address.

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Almond Li is a Hong Kong-based journalist who previously worked for Reuters and Happs TV as a freelancer, and as a reporter at Hong Kong International Business Channel, Citizen News and Commercial Radio Hong Kong. She earned her Masters in Journalism at the University of Southern California. She has an interest in LGBT+, mental health and environmental issues.