China, Hong Kong: Wai King Wong

To preserve culture, the human being is the prime factor. If people in a community do not see the importance of safeguarding it, development is an empty word.

— Wai King Wong

A Hong Kong native, Wong Wai King is a housewife living in Tai O, a small fishing village on western Lantau Island, the largest outlying island of Hong Kong. She began her community services for the elderly and people with different abilities in her home village in the early 1980s. From 1990 onward, she has actively engaged in safeguarding the ecological environment of Tai O, challenging government-corporation collusion and patriarchal ideologies. In 2001, she founded the Tai O Cultural Workshop, which keeps historical archives and objects from the small fishing village.

Very much alone in her decade-long struggle against government-corporation collusion and patriarchal ideologies, Wong Wai King has been daring in both words and actions in protecting the natural environment of her home village Tai O, a small fishing village on western Lantau Island, the largest outlaying island of Hong Kong. A long distance from the territory’s efficient and modern transportation network, Tai O has been able to maintain its rich cultural heritage and natural environmental resources until the 90s before the government set eyes on Lantau Island’s natural resources. Nonetheless, conservative patriarchal tradition has also taken sanctuary and stays strong and intact. Because of its remoteness, marginalized groups, including the elderly and people with other abilities, not only suffer from inadequate and inappropriate community care services, but also discrimination. A housewife with only a few years of formal school education, Wai King began her social engagement in the 80s working with social workers in the community to provide care services to the elderly and people with different abilities. In the 90s, Wai King mobilized Tai O villagers and other Hong Kong people to voice their concerns on possible negative impact to the local culture and ecological environment when the government and corporations expressed interest in developing Tai O and Lantau Island as tourist attractions. In the face of resource constraints and opposition as well as hostility from men, Wai King upholds her beliefs and stays the course, not letting the government, property companies and fellow villagers destroy her beloved home village. In 2001, Wai King established the Tai O Cultural Workshop, which exhibits objects collected in the community that have historical and cultural value.

The founding member of Tai O Cultural Workshop