Five Minutes with Rosemary Torrance

Annie Wong talks to the Founder of Occupy Seating in Sai Kung.

Rosemary Torrance
Founder of Occupy Seating in Sai Kung, Rosemary Torrance

I was born in the British Army Camp at Sek Kong in Tai Mo Shan. My dad was in the army so our family travelled a lot. I spent some time in Germany and England and came back to Sai Kung in 1996. I recall, as a kid, watching movies with my mum about old Hong Kong. She instilled the Chinese culture in me from a young age.

I love the tranquility of Sai Kung, it’s relaxing and a quiet suburb of Hong Kong yet within 30 minutes travel to the heart of the city. Sai Kung is very accessible, with surrounding beaches and trails to take my dogs on big walks and go camping in Tai Long Wan.

I created the Occupy Seating in Sai Kung Facebook group in 2015. There was uproar within the community against the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department’s (FEHD) fining policies after they had penalised a hole-in- the wall eatery that had a few seats outside.

I have put together a petition to back our cause. We will use the petition to show the relevant departments that the community wants alfresco dining in Sai Kung. It will be handed over to the Chairman and the departments during a meeting which is being planned.

The FEHD licensing procedure is making it difficult for new establishments to have alfresco seating. There are so many regulations to comply with and then there are complaints from residents.

I’ve used the weight of the community to push the FEHD in communicating with me. The group has created awareness of the issue and it’s also a place for people to raise their concerns and for owners to know they are supported by the community. We’re fighting with them.

The Chairman of Sai Kung District Council supports an alfresco Sai Kung. Together, we aim to have a plan that supports the livelihood of F&B establishments, as well as keeping with the regulations of the departments and reduce the time needed to obtain a license.

To support alfresco dining in Sai Kung, sign the petition unobstructed-alfresco-dining-in-sai-kung