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LCQ8: Management of the Mong Kok Pedestrian Precinct
     Following is a question by Hon Shiu Ka-fai and a written reply by the Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Lau Kong-wah, in the Legislative Council today (May 24):

     I have received quite a number of complaints that the performances staged by various groups at the Mong Kok Pedestrian Precinct (MKPP) during weekends and public holidays have caused serious nuisance to the residents and staff of the shops in the vicinity.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the respective numbers of complaints received by the authorities in each of the past five years that noise originating from MKPP had caused nuisance to the residents and staff of the shops in the vicinity, as well as the follow-up actions taken by the authorities;
(2) of the number of prosecutions instituted in each of the past five years by the authorities against persons who had generated excessive noise at MKPP, and among those cases, the number of convictions as well as the penalties imposed on the convicted persons;

(3) whether it has assessed if the existing penalties for causing noise nuisance have adequate deterrent effect; given that under the current prosecution procedure, prosecutions must be instituted by way of summons and there must be complainants willing to testify at court hearings, whether it has considered amending the legislation with a view to (i) adopting a simpler and easier procedure for imposing penalties (e.g. reference may be made to the practice of issuing fixed penalty notices with a fine in the amount of $1,500 to shop operators for causing obstruction of public places), and (ii) empowering law enforcement officers to institute prosecutions against persons who have caused noise nuisance even if no complaint has been received;

(4) whether it has sent its staff to measure regularly the noise levels at MKPP during weekends and public holidays; if so, of the relevant figures in each of the past five years; whether it has assessed the impacts of prolonged exposure to noise of such high levels on the physical and mental health of members of the public;

(5) whether the authorities know the numbers of groups and people who often stage performances at MKPP at present; if so, of the relevant figures in each of the past five years; if not, whether the authorities will consider compiling such statistics; if they will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(6) whether the authorities have followed up the obstruction of public places caused by the performances staged at MKPP, and the collection of money rewards by the performers; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(7) given that oil-fired generators are used by some of the groups staging performances in MKPP, whether the authorities have assessed the potential fire hazards so posed to the residents and staff of the shops in the vicinity, as well as the follow-up actions taken; if so, of the details; if not, whether they will take follow-up actions;

(8) as there are views that the current use of MKPP has already departed from the original intent of designation of pedestrian precincts, whether the authorities will consider enacting legislation to specify the activities that may be permitted at MKPP; if so, of the details and the timetable; if not, the reasons for that; and

(9) whether the authorities will consider conducting an opinion survey, with the residents and staff of the shops in the vicinity of MKPP as the respondents, for deciding if MKPP should continue to operate?



     The policy of the Transport and Housing Bureau (THB) is to strive to improve pedestrian environment.  In order to meet the public need for improving the overall pedestrian environment, the Transport Department (TD) has been implementing pedestrian environment improvement schemes in several areas, including full-time and part-time pedestrian streets known as pedestrian precincts.

     TD has designated several sections of Sai Yeung Choi Street South and parts of the nearby streets as part-time pedestrian streets (i.e. the MKPP) on a trial basis since 2000, and has been reviewing the scheme from time to time, including its effectiveness and impact on the environment in the district.  In response to the concern from members of the public and the Yau Tsim Mong District Council regarding various problems including noise nuisance, light pollution and street obstruction in the MKPP, TD shortened the implementation hours of the MKPP several times in 2010, 2012 and 2014 respectively.  The MKPP is operating at present only on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays.

     Upon consultation with THB, TD, the Environment Bureau, the Environmental Protection Department (EPD), the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD), the Fire Services Department (FSD) and the Hong Kong Police Force (the Police), a consolidated reply to various parts of the question is as follows:

(1) The number of complaints about noise nuisance in the MKPP received by relevant departments over the past five years is summarised as follows:
Year 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
The Police 761 1 061 633 722 1 224
EPD 3 3 2 4 6
Yau Tsim Mong District Office 4 2 1 3 2
  768 1 066 636 729 1 232
     Sections 4 and 5 of the Noise Control Ordinance, Cap 400, Laws of Hong Kong and its sub-leg Regulations, provide for the regulation of noises from various activities such as singing, playing of musical instruments and the use of loudspeakers in public places, including the MKPP.  In general, on receipt of a complaint, the Police will deploy officers to the scene to collect the required information concerning the noise, confirm the noise and endeavor to identify the source of the noise.  If the source is identified, the Police will give either advice or a warning to the relevant parties.  If the situation is not improved subsequently and the informant is willing to assist as a prosecution witness, the Police will issue summons to the relevant parties for prosecution.

(2) The numbers of prosecutions and convicted cases related to noise complaints in the MKPP over the past five years are summarised as follows:
Year No. of Summons issued Convicted Cases Case(s) yet to be heard
2012 3 0 0
2013 9 0 0
2014 0 0 0
2015 1 1 (Defendant was fined $500) 0
2016 5 0 4
(3) Any person who violates sections 4 and 5 of the Noise Control Ordinance would be liable to a maximum fine of $10,000.  The current practice of initiating prosecution by laying summons serves a deterrent effect to those who cause noise nuisance.  At the moment, the Government has no plan to amend the Noise Control Ordinance.  Relevant departments will continue to monitor the situation and strengthen liaison with stakeholders in the district for effective management of the MKPP.

(4) In general, environmental noise in the MKPP could cause annoyance; however the assessment of impacts on physical and mental health is not based on the noise level and the Government has not carried out regular noise level monitoring on the MKPP.

(5) The Government has no record of the number of persons and organisations participating in street performances in the MKPP.  At present, there is no plan to compile such statistics.

(6) As with activities conducted in other public places, the activities in the MKPP should be conducted without endangering public safety, or causing nuisance or obstruction to members of the public.  Should any street performance breach any statutory provisions, relevant enforcement departments may give advice or verbal warning to the person concerned, or institute prosecution in accordance with the relevant Ordinance, having regard to the specific circumstances of each case.

(7) FSD has not received any complaints about potential fire hazards caused by the use of oil-fired generators in the MKPP over the past five years.  In general, FSD officers will conduct inspection at the site upon receipt of relevant complaints.  Should there be any breach of Fire Services Ordinance, FSD will take appropriate enforcement action against the responsible person. In accordance with the Dangerous Goods Ordinance, Cap 295, Laws of Hong Kong and its sub-leg Regulations, any person who contravenes the provisions of the Ordinance is liable to a maximum fine of $25,000 and imprisonment for six months for a single offence.

(8) As reiterated by THB, TD implements pedestrian environment improvement schemes in several areas, including full-time and part-time pedestrian streets known as pedestrian precincts.  The purpose is to improve pedestrian safety and mobility, promote walking as a transport mode, discourage access for non-essential vehicles, and improve the overall pedestrian environment.  Relevant departments regulate the activities and situations in these pedestrian schemes in accordance with the power provided in their respective legislation.  For instance, TD is responsible for formulating suitable traffic management measures with regard to the pedestrian and vehicular traffic of the pedestrian streets (e.g. adjusting the traffic lights in accordance with the traffic arrangements during the operating hours of the pedestrian schemes); the Police maintains peace and public order, and deploys staff to the scene upon receipt of noise complaints related to the MKPP.  The person creating the noise, if not abate the noise after receiving advice from the Police, would be issued with warning or prosecuted under the Noise Control Ordinance; FEHD is responsible for handling issues related to environmental hygiene, street cleansing and hawking activities; while the District Office (DO) reflects the views of local residents and the District Council, and coordinates and fosters the cooperation of relevant departments to handle district level issues when required.

(9) The Government is willing to listen to the public's views on the MKPP.  Upon request from TD, DO has conducted a local consultation to collect views from the District Council and members of the public on the pedestrian scheme, including the management and implementation hours of the MKPP, for TD's reference during review on the situation in the MKPP.  If further request is received from TD, DO would arrange local consultation again.
Ends/Wednesday, May 24, 2017
Issued at HKT 15:00
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