Friday, November 20, 2009

Emperor of Kowloon (「九龍皇帝」曾灶財)

曾灶財 claimed to be the emperor of Kowloon, and put his unique brand of “calligraphy” - or graffiti, as some people insist - all over Kowloon. When he was younger, he was energetic enough to be many steps ahead of the government, who seemed intended to wipe them off, or cover them with paint.

By the time he died in 2007, after many years of illness and limited mobility, most of his calligraphy had been removed by our government. This one on a wall outside Kai Yip Estate (啟業) in Kowloon Bay, facing Kwun Tong Road (觀塘道), was one of those that survived up until then.

Upon popular request, the government promised to preserve them, if not because of their artistic value, at least on account of them being a more colourful part of our collective memory.

Sadly, I have to report that the calligraphy was no longer there, as of month. It was covered by a layer of dull grey paint. The government will probably not admit to doing it. They will likely say: we didn’t order it to be removed or covered, and we don’t know who did. Such is our government, typically not responsible for anything that we care about.

It is rather ironic that the paint the government uses to cover up Tsang’s calligraphy is so poor that it sometimes wears away, exposing the calligraphy again. So there is still hope.

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