Last summer, thousands of people marched in Tuen Mun chanting “return me a quiet park,” denouncing the mainland Chinese women whose blaring music performances are seen as a nuisance to the neighborhood.
Now, irritated residents in the New Territories town may finally get their peace.
Tuen Mun district councillor Michael Mo said on Facebook this week that authorities have passed a law amendment regulating the use of public outdoor spaces. Starting July 24, those carrying out unauthorized music performances will be fined HK$10,000 (US$1,290), up from the earlier penalty of HK$2,000 (US$260).
Targeting “singing aunties” who receive cash from male parkgoers enjoying their acts, the amendment further adds that “solicitation of money, a person must not solicit or accept, or agree to receive… any reward for any music activity or related activity.”
Mo, who has made cracking down on “singing aunties” a focus of his district council work, said the Home Affairs Bureau informed him that the amendment was gazetted on May 22 and will be enforced next month.
“On July 24, let’s all go to the park together and witness the updated regulation on the park’s notice board, shall we?” Mo wrote in his Facebook post.
Tuen Mun residents have long complained about “singing aunties,” known colloquially as “damas”—a derogatory Chinese term referring to middle-aged women.
Many feel disturbed by the performers, who regularly blast songs through loudspeakers and dance suggestively while skimpily dressed. They have even been accused of offering “soft sex services.”
The behavior, which residents say have worsened in recent years, has driven families away from the neighborhood park and added fuel to anti-mainland sentiment among Hongkongers.
Last July, around 10,000 people—according to the march organizer’s count—took part in a rally calling for tougher regulations to rid the park of the “singing aunties.” After the march, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) announced the closure of the two “self-entertainment zones” which were designated public areas for performers.
Local residents welcome the amendment, seeing it as a long overdue step towards tackling a problem that has plagued the district for over a decade. Edmund Cheng, who has lived in Tuen Mun for over 20 years, said that the “singing aunties” have a negative effect on the community.
“Originally, [Tuen Mun Park] was a good place to have a chat with friends,” Cheng said. “But what’s left now is just noise.”
But some expressed doubt that the new legislation would alleviate the problem.
“Of course it’s good to have this amendment,” another Tuen Mun resident who asked to go by the last name Kuang said.
He added his reservations: “But I am not optimistic that the government will truly enforce it. In the past when there have been complaints, [authorities would] conduct inspections [in the park] but they haven’t been strict about it.”
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