Have you ever questioned why Cheung Sha Wan Government Offices is at Sham Shui Po Station and why Causeway Bay Wet Market is at Tin Hau Station?
There is also one person who is interested in the mismatch of Mass Transit Railway (MTR) Station names and place names, Chang ka-lun Alan.
He noticed the problem when he heard that the MTRC is going to expand its services to central Kowloon.
‘Why this place we called Hung Hom is now called Ho Man Tin?’ he wondered and started to look at maps and books to search for the reason.
The MTR Kwun Tong Line extension has opened on 23th October and attracted 176,000 people to use the new stations on the first day.
The Kwun Tong Line extension includes two new stations, namely Ho Man Tin Station and Whampoa Station, in central Kowloon area.
After the first day of service, many people have focused on the 25-story stairs in Ho Man Tin Station but few noticed the debates on the name of the station.
‘The station has got a wrong name!’ he said.
Therefore, Chang set up a Facebook page Protecting Hong Kong names to ask for supports his action to rename the existing ‘Ho Man Tin Station’.
There were street stations and voting boards around the area in mid-November, asking people to vote for a suitable name of the station.
‘This place is actually Lo Lung Hang. It takes more than 20 minutes to walk from this station to actual Ho Man Tin area,’ he explained.
Lo Lung Hang seems to be forgotten by people, by the government, and by the MTRC. Yet, many documents and maps, for example maps from the War Department of United Kingdom, show us the name ‘Lo Lung Hang’ and many residents from the older generations have this name in their heart.
Where is Lo Lung Hang? It is actually a valley located at the northwest of Hung Hom, including the area of Yan Fung Street, Wuhu Street, Gillies Avenue South and Chi Kiang Street. As for District Council electoral district, it is partly To Kwa Wan South, partly Ka Wai.
Ho Man Tin station is located here, right on the valley.
How about Ho Man Tin? ‘It is about 1.5 kilometers away from the closest exit of Ho Man Tin Station,’ Chang said.
Instead of calling it ‘Lo Lung Hang Station’, the MTRC decided to name it ‘Ho Man Tin’.
‘This is misleading!’ Mrs Kwong, who came from Hong Kong Island, said.
‘I came to visit a friend in Ho Man Tin, and I came here. I didn’t know I need to walk a long way there!’ she said.
Ho Man Tin Station does have an exit for Ho Man Tin Estate and seems to have justified the reason of using this name; however, Chang explained that even Ho Man Tin Estate is not exactly located in Ho Man Tin.
Chang has thumbed through a lot of historical documents and he found in a map of Kowloon in 1902 showing that the area of Ho Man Tin, originally named Ho Mun Tin, was only limited to a valley between Mong Kok, Fo Pang and Tai Shek Ku Temple.
‘It is after Ho Man Tin Estate was built that the area expands to Quarry Hill,’ Chang said.
Discussion online doubt that the MTRC and other land developers are trying to expand the area of traditional luxury residential area Ho Man Tin, so as to build more luxury homes in these areas.
Chang said, ‘I cannot say that they do this to raise the property price, but it is true that we can see the price of the newly built building, which is named after Ho Man Tin, is way higher than other buildings in the district.’
It has been five years since Chang first sent an email to question the naming decision on the station and the MTRC still insist to use the name ‘Ho Man Tin’ and said they had consulted the stakeholders to get this conclusion.
However, the voting results tell a different story. Valley Station, Lo Lung Hang Station and Hung Hom North Station are the most popular choices.
Who had the MTRC consulted?
‘I live in Hung Hom. Here is Hung Hom,’ Ms Chan, resident in the area, said.
She continued ‘before the construction of the station started, I had never think of calling this place Ho Man Tin. I was born and raised here, in Hung Hom.’
Shops and places in the area use Hong Hom as their address. ‘Most of the residents believed that they live in Hong Hom since they were told so,’ Chang said.
Mr Lam Pok Jimmy, the District Councilor of To Kwa Wan South, referred us to the District Councilors of Ho Man Tin, although Ho Man Tin Station is located in his responsible area Lo Lung Hang.
While the MTR is using the name ‘Ho Man Tin’, residents are using ‘Hong Hom’, even District Councilor call it ‘Ho Man Tin’, why should the name ‘Lo Lung Hang’ be kept?
‘ It is sad to see people do not know the real names of the place they walk past every day,’ Chang said. ‘It symbolizes the history and culture in Hong Kong.’
Ho Man Tin is not the only case that could be found along the MTR lines. Mei Foo Station, which locates in Lai Chi Kok, was named after big housing estate Mei Foo Sun Chuen; Taikoo Station, locates in Quarry Bay, was named after Taikoo Shing; or in some cases like Olympic Station that has no relation to the district Tai Kok Tsui at all.
‘People now can only remember the names of these large housing estates and Hong Kong is dominated by the property market. People start to forget all these old place names.’ Chang added.
Another reason for the confusion could be the lack of organization of the government. There are many shops registered in the Water Supplies Department with Hung Hom and being told by Lands Department that it is To Kwa Wan.
Lands Department said there is no official boundaries for different districts but only boundaries for District Council and Legislative Council election; while there are clear boundaries in other countries such as the United States and New Zealand.
Chang said he would continue to spread out his idea of keeping the old names and wished there is opportunity to educate the young generation about local geography.
Will there be one day that the names that have existed for hundreds years totally disappear from Hong Kong? Will there be anyone remember that this place is called Lo Lung Hang?