Intangible but invaluable cultural heritage

晶文薈萃 十優文章

Whether you believe it or not, there was a white elephant living in Lai Chi Kok Amusement Park in Hong Kong. Because of reclamation, the Lai Chi Kok Amusement Park was forced to close. That is why you may not know there was a white elephant in Hong Kong. However, if we focus too much urban development and ignore our cultural heritage, all cities will end up looking almost similar.

Hong Kong is a recognized global centre of trade. However, it still possesses its own character and identity. We have to find a balance between urban development and conservation of cultural heritage. Therefore, a sustainable development of cultural heritage is the solution. I propose two areas in Hong Kong for conservation which will complement Hong Kong’s financial status while preserving her cultural identity at the same time.

Hong Kong is frequently described as a place where ‘East meets the West’. Murray House in Stanley market is the most suitable place to show this characteristic. Murray House is a restored three-storey colonial building. It shows the fusion of Chinese and Western architectural design using a Chinese-inspired tiled roof and Western-style columns, which are common architectural design in Hong Kong’s early colonial days.

How can we make Murray House become a must-visit spot? Nowadays, the ground floor of Murray House is Hong Kong Maritime Museum and the second floor is a restaurant. Undoubtedly, providing meals can earn money but it is meaningless to preserving the heritage of a place. Tourists will not realize the history of Hong Kong merely through a meal. Therefore, the restaurant in Murray House should provide some distinctive Hong Kong cuisines to visitors and the setting in the restaurant can be similar to the ‘old’ Hong Kong style. It sounds more attractive and displays the history in Hong Kong. Also, Murray House can be self-sufficient through its restaurant earnings.

Besides Murray House, Temple Street Night Market in Hong Kong should be another conservation area. Some people may think that Temple Street is not fashionable, historic or classy. Indeed, this is not true. Temple Street Night Market is a local shopping hub which provides an astonishing variety of inexpensive items such as clothing, accessories and even oriental ornaments. There are also Chinese opera performances and Hong Kong snacks.

Unfortunately, the Hong Kong government has overlooked the need to preserve Temple Street Night Market. More and more Chinese operas or other special performances have disappeared because of the restrictions from the government. Such special performances represent the street culture and neighbourhood culture of Hong Kong and can only be seen in Temple Street Night Market. An area in Temple Street Night Market should be provided for this kind of performances instead of prohibiting them. Otherwise, this distinctive Market will totally disappear one day.

The two areas proposed above should be gazette for conservation as part of Hong Kong’s cultural heritage. Cultural heritage is invaluable and of utmost importance to a society. It includes our collective memories and connects one generation to the next. It gives us a sense of identity and place. Ultimately, cultural heritage reinforces our belonging to Hong Kong.