Friday, November 27, 2015   

Having hawker dessert with Li Keqiang

Friday, January 25, 2013


Water Street is an innocuous looking lane in Sai Ying Pun, which came alive at night with scores of cooked food hawkers stalls between the 1960s and the 1980s.

Many of the erstwhile office bearers of Hong Kong University Students' Union fondly recollect the times when they would congregate with fellow students on this street to debate the finer nuances of philosophy or discuss the broiling political climate in the mainland over a dessert of sweet soup, wonton noodles or even hotpot.

Political veteran Andrew Fung Wai- kwong is a case in point.

The 1984 union president recalls a signal moment when he played host to vice premier-elect Li Keqiang, pictured, then secretary-general of the All-China Students Federation.

Over bowls of sweet soup in Water Street, Fung and Li discussed almost everything about China "even the activists, constitution, legal system and economic development," Fung recalls nostalgically.

"We expressed our views and we exchanged them openly," he said, adding that the union hosted Li in the HKU hall for a couple of days.

Before Li left we gave him a souvenir flag, he said.

But meetings were not always about serious discussions, said Alex Law Kai- yui, who won a Berlin Film Festival Crystal Bear award for Echoes of the Rainbow.

The director, who was the international relations secretary of the union in 1975, has fond memories of the street, where hawkers would sell favorites such as beef entrails and sweet soup ... sometimes in the middle of the road.

Law looks wistful as he tells about a very gorgeous classmate of theirs whom they called "Sweetie," who lived just above a dessert shop. "When we passed by we would holler her name, just how Romeo would have called out to Juliet," he said.

Law also told of how the seniors would play pranks on the junior students when they first enrolled at the university, or got them to go out on errands.

"We would ask one of the juniors to go and buy a bouquet of flowers from Water Street and give them to the girl we wanted to date,"he said, with a twinkle in his eye.

He also reminisced about how some girls would be asked by the seniors to buy ice cream for them.

"They were only allowed to walk," he said, adding, "if the ice cream melted, they had to buy another one again."

Water Street nowadays looks a bit spiffy and has changed a bit. Nevertheless, for HKU alumni, it holds very fond memories.

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