6D Hedy Wong
Learning English through Pop Culture
There are more and more different kinds of street performances in Hong Kong. While these performances add spice to street culture, some people and even the buskers themselves call for more regulations on street performances. Write a letter to the editor saying why people have such a demand and discuss the arguments of both for and against having more regulations on busking. At the end of the letter, state your standpoint.
The street culture is thriving more than ever in Hong Kong, with eye-catching performances ranging from singing, street dances to magic shows. However, quite a few problems have stemmed from this phenomenon and people are calling for measures to regularize street performances. Hence I am writing to express my views amid the controversy.
There are several reasons why some citizens shake their heads to busking. First of all, busking is thought to be causing noise pollution. If you now take a stroll on Star Avenue in Tsim Sha Tsui, it is likely for you to catch sight of a few groups performing at this popular travelling spot. Most people would probably not mind, and perhaps find the shows enjoyable. However, what if there are more than just a handful of performances, and are located in residential areas? In fact, people are now complaining that the performances are becoming overwhelming. In Mongkok, another hot spot for busking, residents have reported that the music generated by street performances is too loud and often lasts until midnight. Busking has brought disturbance to the daily lives of locals. Noise pollution can greatly affect the sleeping patterns of infants and senior citizens, while depriving others of a time for relaxation. As a result, health problems are caused, such as fatigue and insomnia. Evidently, the street performances are not that enjoyable anymore to some locals due to its lax control.
Apart from the noise problem, busking has made the city look unpleasant to the eye due to its increasing numbers. Hong Kong streets are generally narrower than those in foreign countries. Therefore they have difficulty in accommodating several street performances all at once. This overcrowding situation cause great inconvenience to daily commuters, while holistically, it lowers the image of the city as a favourable travelling destination. Finding the streets too crowded, tourists may not be too fond of revisiting our city.
Regarding these problems, different voices within the territory have suggested different measures on regularizing street performances. Some recommend all buskings to be moved to a certain area, say, West Kowloon Cultural district. Others press for legislation or an establishment of a specialized committee, in order to decide which groups are allowed to perform.
Some citizens support this motion since they believe that it can bring forth a better living environment. By regularisation, it can be ensured that street performances would be of high quality and would not be producing unwanted noise that disrupts daily lives and scares off tourists. Besides, it alleviates the overcrowding problem, yet still preserving some room for cultural development.
On the other hand, the protesters question whether cultural diversity, a valued ingredient for spicing up our city lives and maintaining social harmony, can still be effectively promoted. They are worried that moving all buskers to a designated place will eventually defeat the purpose of busking. Street performances, by definition, are meant to be more impromptu and informal, and should be taking place on ordinary streets, not all packed in one place. What’s more, the majority of citizens may be reluctant to travel to places such as West Kowloon just to watch a few street performances. As a result, busking might decline in popularity and cultural development would be hampered. While referring to the second and third measures, the parameters of regulating busking are still unclear since the government has yet to make a direct address on the issue. If the criteria are too harsh, street culture may vanish.
I personally believe that street performances should be regularized. While it is not necessary to relocate all of them to the West Kowloon Cultural District, laws must still be enforced to prevent the problems from worsening. The establishment of a licensing system would be a great start. It should be insisted that only the licensed entertainers are allowed to perform on streets. There should also be a limit on the number and time of busking activities. The government can draw an example from Taiwan, where the performers must allow pedestrians a wide passage, and may only perform from 10:00am to 10:00pm. The entertainers must also clean the place up and put it to rights following the performance.
I sincerely hope that the government can strike a balance between maintaining the living standards of the general public and promoting cultural diversity.