|One singer has moved to the Tsim Sha Tsui Star Ferry pier for an audience|
They used to hang out in Sai Yeung Choi Street South in Mongkok, wearing outlandish costumes and belting out karaoke tunes, or young people who think they are the Hong Kong version of Ed Sheeran, or dancing aunties wanting to show off their dance moves.
But after that street was shut down to performers last year, they carried on, spreading out all over Hong Kong. Some could be found by the Central ferry piers, or at the Star Ferry pier in Tsim Sha Tsui -- well the ones that I have seen.
|One street performer who showed off his skills in Mongkok|
Those who repeatedly cause a noise nuisance could be blacklisted, and retired policemen could be recruited to enforce the possible measures.
Lawmakers on the home affairs panel passed a non-binding motion to urge the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) to review the rules to mitigate noise nuisance in parks, eliminate cash rewards for performers and increase penalties.
It doesn't seem like lawmakers have done much research on buskers and street entertainers.
Edward Lau Kwok-fan of the DAB, said the current punishment for offenders is too lenient. He seemed to think performers could earn more than HK$1,000 a day busking, so a fine of HK$1,200 was not high enough to deter them from coming back.
LCSD director Michelle Li admitted it was not illegal to give money to performers, but perhaps repeat offenders could be blacklisted.
|This guy is quite well known for his Waldo look...|
However Democratic Party lawmaker Roy Kwong Chun-yu had a good point -- would there be enough manpower to handle all these complaints and enforce the rules?
Li replied training would be provided to park managers and even retired policemen would be hired to handle the situation. Glad to know the government is thinking about employing seniors...
But who gets to decide what sounds good and what sounds horrific?
That's what a performer called Ling asked.
"What may be music to our ears may seem loud to someone else, and now that nearby residents and park managers are free to file complaints as witnesses, it has made it easier to prosecute us," she said.
Ling regularly performs at Tuen Mun park and felt the government should define the level at which noise was considered a nuisance.
"We're just having fun, enjoying a good time with our friends and it's not against the law," she added. "I don't understand why people are trying to drive us away."
Does this mean the LCSD has to go back to the drawing board and figure out the definition of noise nuisance? But what the performers are doing is exercising their freedom of expression. Bureaucracy can't silence that.