Photo Essay

Final days of the fabric bazaar

 

by Flavia Wong

Chan Yu-tung, also known as "Uncle Tung", 82, is the oldest hawker in the Yen Chow Street Hawker Bazaar in Sham Shui Po, where he has worked for decades.

He still enjoys his work in the market, although he says the environment is not ideal – the small fabric market was built with plastic and iron sheets and is packed with fabric bolts. But that all may soon come to an end if the government gets its way.

In August, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department sent letters to hawkers saying it was planning to resume the land for building 200 units under the Home Ownership Scheme, according to a report by local media Apple Daily.

Hawkers with a license may have the choice of compensation of $80,000, lower than the normal $120,000, if they return the licenses back to the government, or they will be offered a stall in other markets.

Yet, among the 190 tenants, only 21 of them actually have government licenses, according to Cable TV's report. These hawkers will receive no compensation.

Tung has no license. "The government has not talked to us, the tenants, yet. We have no idea how they would settle us, or if they would compensate us," he said. He added that he will miss the market if it is closed.

Since the 1970s, the fabric market has been the paradise of fashion students.

They have also expressed their reluctance to part with the market. Some university graduates even take photos in the market in their graduation gown.

"We can find varieties of fabrics here and they are very cheap. Hawkers are also very nice to us. It actually nurtures many students," said Chee Ka-po, a graduate of Bachelor of Fashion and Textile Studies, Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

Ms Chee has been going there with her classmates since secondary school to buy fabrics for their home economics homework.

"I hope the market can be preserved," she said.

"Hong Kong is a very small place. It is inevitable that the old places have to be sacrificed for development, so I come here today to capture the market and try to keep this meaningful place by photos," said Lam Yok, a photographer in the fabric market. The photography event was organised by local concern group.

(Edited by Joanne Lee)

《The Young Reporter》

The Young Reporter (TYR) is an English news publication produced by international journalism students at Hong Kong Baptist University. It started as a printed magazine in 1969. Today, TYR is produced across different platforms.

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