Hong Kong’s Star Ferry Pier in the Central has serviced Hong Kong for 48 years and sadly, was closed yesterday for demolition to make way for reclamation and re-development, a fate that so many other sites of heritage and historial interest in the territory have been dealt. Thousands of people emerged yesterday to use the cameras/camcorders to record the last day of the ferry using the old pier. I was one of them, spurred by my fond memories of the pier and a deep sense of loss. This pier is about 20 minute bus from where I live and I used to take the star ferry from Central to Tsim Sha Tsui, so as to take in the spectacular harbour view and get some rest during the short boat ride.
The pier has become part of my memory about the city, my growing up and my life. It is no doubt also part of the collective memory, testified by the big crowd which turned up to memorize the loss. Hong Kong’s home affairs secretary Ho Chi Ping said those against the demolition of the star ferry are abusing the collective memory. I hope he did come in person to the ferry pier yesterday and see by himself how collective that memory is.
When the city loses its collective memory, what is left is stronger sense of isolation and alieniation among its citizens. At the same time, Hong Kong is also losing its uniqueness and charms in its quest to modernize itself to become “Asia’s World City” by demolishing sites of heritage and burying its past.