Sunday, September 28, 2008

City Speak IV

I went to the forum City Speak IV the other day and gave a bit of spiel about Freedom Ball which seemed to go OK. The forum was organised by Paul Zimmerman at Designing Hong Kong and was particularly interesting as they managed to get a diverse range of speakers discussing issues around the regulation of public space, including representatives from the government, hawkers, market traders, academics, activists and street performers. Part of the reason for the forum was the upcoming review of hawker licensing by the government.

One of the things that struck me about the debate was the number of times that the discussion started to revolve around whether we should support or discourage different 'kinds of people' (hawkers, street performers, etc) rather than direct discussion of the issues and problems that might or might not need regulating. This was particularly true of the government discussion paper which talks about the types of problems that hawkers (and particular types of hawker) tend to cause, with the resulting recommendation that licenses be granted/phased out for this type of hawker.

Personally I feel that when we do need to regulate then the regulation should be as minimal as necessary to get the job done and should directly address the issue rather than dealing with generalised groups. For example, the government feels that hawkers tend to create hygiene problems and uses this as a reason not to issue hawker licenses in general. If hygiene is an issue then it would, in my opinion, be better to draft legislation that directly addresses hygiene and apply this to everybody equally whether hawkers, restaurants or five-star hotels.

Another issue, which I've posted about before, was the contradictory way the Hong Kong government expects people to take responsibility for themselves rather than relying on government handouts and a welfare state in the economic sphere and yet regulates them to death in other areas.

1 comment:

gweipo said...

well done on the article in the SCMP today!