Hot Door Subjects: Jumbo Kingdom
By Kitson Wong
Hot Subject 01: Jumbo Kingdom
The alleged overturn of Jumbo Kingdom, a 46-year-old vessel known as the world’s largest sea restaurant, triggered a heated debate and a swirl of conspiracy theories in Hong Kong. A famous landmark located in Hong Kong’s Southern District, the Jumbo once housed the iconic Jumbo Floating Restaurant and the Tai Pak Floating Restaurant, and had been a filming location for numerous movies, including Stephen Chow’s classic God of Cookery (1996). To Hong Kong people, the ship means more than a seafood restaurant: the Jumbo is a vehicle of collective memory.
It’s a pity that the pandemic has caused the Jumbo to cease its business. Between 2020 and 2022, the Jumbo faced countless troubles in deciding whether to stay or leave Hong Kong. In November 2020, the Hong Kong government proposed the donation of Jumbo Kingdom to Ocean Park, but this proposition was not realized. This month, the Jumbo was forced to leave Hong Kong due to a lack of funds and the expiration of its maritime license. The Jumbo left its port in Shum Wan on June 14; six days later, its owner, the Aberdeen Restaurant Enterprises, claimed that the Jumbo capsized when passing the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea. The ship had purportedly encountered wind and waves, and began to sink into the water. On June 23, however, the Hong Kong Maritime Administration announced that the Jumbo did not sink, based on the report submitted by the Enterprises.
News of the Jumbo’s condition has been unclear, and the public has no way of knowing the truth. Did the Jumbo really sink? Why did different stakeholders release different statements? If the Jumbo did sink, was it because of the weather or were other factors involved? If the Jumbo didn’t sink, was the initial report a hoax by the Aberdeen Restaurant Enterprises? Will there be a new operator to take over the Jumbo? Would it be better for it to remain lost at sea or should it return to Hong Kong?
Curated by ArtAsiaPacific’s design intern Kitson Wong, “Hot Door Subjects” discusses the latest hot topics in Hong Kong.