Building a park on Ma Wan, which lies between Lantau and Tsing Yi islands, was only an excuse for Sun Hung Kai Properties Ltd. to expel the native villagers and construct a residential project on the island, SHKP co-chairman Thomas Kwok said in a memo to his senior management in 1995.
The information was revealed during the corruption trial of Kwok, his brother Raymond Kwok, former chief secretary Rafael Hui and two others at the Court of First Instance on Wednesday, Ming Pao Daily reported.
In his testimony, SHKP executive director Mike Wong said Thomas Kwok had hoped that Ma Wan Park would benefit the Hong Kong community, and was keen on the construction of Noah’s Ark and other facilities for the project.
According to Wong, Thomas Kwok said in a memo in 1995 that the Ma Wan Park should adopt a simple design and should resemble Victoria Park, with commercial elements and gimmicky designs kept to a minimum. Kwok estimated that the park would cost HK$150 million to build and the maintenance fee should be kept as low as possible, in order not to draw opposition from the then Regional Council.
Wong said Thomas Kwok had been enthusiastic about the Ma Wan Park project since 2000, adding that it was Kwok’s hope that Noah’s Ark would help educate the public on human civilization and promote peace. Wong disagreed with some claims that Thomas Kwok’s consideration was only to make money.
In the 1990s, native Ma Wan villagers staged a strong opposition to government plans for the construction of the new airport and Tsing Ma Bridge near the area. As owner of some plots in the northeastern New Territories, SHKP approached the government to discuss plans to develop the area and relocate the villagers, the report said.
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