Au Yueng Cheong is a calligraphist who has been stationed in the shopping mall in the State Theatre Building for over 30 years.
At the peak of his career, he was commissioned to produce thousands of commercial signage all around Hong Kong. He is especially proud to have once produced work for a politician.
Cheong explained that he is now the only person in Hong Kong honing the skill of writing the “TRUE FONT”, which is identical to traditional Chinese characters, and that he would like to conserve the heritage. “The “True Font” can still be found at a few places in Mainland China nowadays” the calligraphist claimed. If this is true then our guess is that Traditional Chinese was used before the CCP took over, and so the writing became a rarity since it was replaced by Simplified Chinese as the official written form of Chinese in the 50s.
In recent years, China is slowly gentrifying Hong Kong into becoming like the rest of the cities in the mainland, Simplified Chinese has also been introduced into the Hong Kong school system to replace our traditional culture.
Mr Au Yueng’s livelihood and the future of Hong Kong seems to be facing similar destinies, as both are to be slowly eliminated where we fail to see the value and the importance of heritage conservation as a city.
New World Development, a Hong Kong based firm, purchased the premises at HK$740 million with the intention to tear down the whole building as its commercial plan in the first place. The 67-year-old State Theatre Building (formerly known as Empire Theatre) is now the only post-war standalone theatre, and 1 of the 172 Grade 1 historical buildings in Hong Kong. According to the Antiquities Advisory Board in Hong Kong, a Grade 1 building or structure is one that “has outstanding merit, which every effort should be made to preserve if possible”
We appreciate the campaigns made by several organisations wanting to conserve the historical legacy of Hong Kong; without the passionate people working to keep Hong Kong’s characters alive, there would be one less heritage structure left every time a new development plan comes into place Hong Kong would become faceless in no time.
Check out Instagram Media @likewise’ s video to have a last glimpses of this legend.