May 17, 2007|
HK Magazine: Why is the pier so important to you?
Kuen: I found my first love here. I still remember her face – gorgeous. I guess many people have a lot of memories here. So demolishing it is like taking part of our cherished memories away. To me, memories, be they the good or bad ones, are priceless.
HK: How long have you been camping?
K: For 20 nights now. I camp here every other night so I can clean at home on the nights off. I come here from Causeway Bay after work and go straight back to work in the morning. I spend more time here on weekends.
HK: How many people are in the camp?
K: There are five or six people at least. Maybe 20 at night and even more on the weekend. You know, camping here is not easy – the rain, the mosquitoes, and we are now working on a plan if a typhoon arrives.
HK: Sounds fun. So why are you here anyway?
K: To preserve our history, our culture, our community space, and the rights of the people. I don’t want to point to an old picture and explain to my child, “See, this is Queen’s Pier. It used to exist in Central and Dad used to bring girls here.” Hong Kong is said to be a cultural desert, and part of the reason is that we don’t preserve history and instead tear down old buildings for economic gain. No history, no culture. It pisses me off.
HK: What do people think about you?
K: Some people see us as troublemakers; some say the government will tear the whole pier down anyway and we are just wasting our time. But whatever you do, there will always be discouraging voices. I don’t see why anyone would oppose what we're doing. So yeah, many people support us, as well. We have collected 400 signatures, a lot of biscuits and many bottles of water - including the expensive mineral ones.
HK: But the government said they will really tear it down, or at least move it.
K: We just don’t think about it. We are here to fight for something – we focus on the goal, not the fear of failure.
HK: Boring question: what have you learned from this?
K: I realized I love Hong Kong more than I thought. You have to be persistent when you are fighting for something - it is not a one-off thing. Most campaigns are considered finished after a letter is handed to the government, or when a lawmaker arrives and takes some photos with protestors. No - you have to fight till the very last minute if you really want a chance.
HK: Hong Kong is a small city. Tearing down old buildings is inevitable if we are to build something new...
K: We are reasonable people. We are not saying that we should preserve every historical building. Just ask before taking things away from people. And give us good reasons to back up your actions.
HK: How are you feeling now?
K: Very, very tired and desperate for a good bath.