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Should new hawker licences be issued? 2016.11.25
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Patrick: Those food trucks licensed by the government will begin operation soon. I can’t wait to try out the food!

Alex: Fried rice, dumplings, burgers, sandwiches and dessert? That doesn’t sound very appetising to me. Neither do they represent Hong Kong much. I want the classic Hong Kong street food like fi sh balls, siu mai, spicy squid and sticky tofu. Why can’t the government issue new hawker licences? Then we can have a street food market just like those that are famous in Taiwan. Both locals and tourists will love the venue and the fare.

Patrick: Hang on a minute! In the past, there weren’t many hygiene and safety regulations for hawkers. Let’s admit it, the food they served could be really dirty. Their carts blocked streets too. That is why the government stopped issuing new licences since the 1970s. Now we have the 16 food trucks which are strictly regulated.

Alex: Food trucks are too expensive for hawkers to run. Some food truck owners estimate that it will cost them more than $1 million to join the two-year pilot scheme. How many fi sh balls must one sell?

Patrick: Proper cooking facilities installed in a van are of course more expensive than a wooden cart. We should let go of the old days and raise the bar to attract tourists.

Alex: But can’t you see? That taste of the old Hong Kong days might be exactly what some tourists are looking for. And if you are worried about hygiene … well, the government can easily draw up a new set of regulations to protect public health.

Key arguments (Patrick)

1.Hawkers had little hygiene and safety regulation.

2. Food trucks are a good replacement for hawkers.

Key arguments (Alex)

1. Hawkers selling street food is part of our culture.

2. New hygiene safety rules can be drawn up for hawkers.

Glossary

food truck pilot scheme 美食車試行計劃

signature dish 招牌菜

fixed-pitch hawker licence 固定攤位小販牌照

itinerant hawker licence 流動小販牌照

bricolage 自己拼裝的物件、工具

Food and Environmental Hygiene Department 食物環境衛生署

Did you know?

There are seven categories of fixedpitch hawker licences: bootblack, cooked food or light refreshment, newspaper, tradesman, barber, wall stall and other classes. Usually a fixed-pitch hawker licence may be transferred to an “immediate family member” within one year of the death of the licensee.

The government also offers a one-off payment of HK$120,000 to hawkers who surrender their fixed-pitch licences.

Questions

1. Whose side are you on in the imaginary exchange? Are you with Patrick or do you back Alex?

2. Do you prefer to buy food from food trucks or hawkers?

3. Consider the street food markets in other places. Is it possible to have a similar one in Hong Kong?

4. How can we strike a balance between preserving local culture and ensuring hygiene and safety?

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