25 October 2016
Jacko Tsang (inset) says he has never made any money by occupying country park campsites. Photos: Facebook, Apple Daily
Jacko Tsang (inset) says he has never made any money by occupying country park campsites. Photos: Facebook, Apple Daily

Former British-Chinese soldier makes Sai Kung campsite his home

A former British-Chinese soldier has been living frugally at a campsite in Sai Kung for almost two years, drawing curious onlookers and earning praise from locals for his community-friendly gestures.

Jacko Tsang, 65, has been at the Wan Tsai Peninsular South Campsite (西貢灣仔南營地) for over 700 days now, becoming a permanent fixture there.

Tsang chose to live in a tent in natural surroundings despite having properties in both Hong Kong and mainland China, Apple Daily noted.

He helps out fellow campers, giving them things that other campers leave behind, the paper said in a report Thursday after some pictures were uploaded onto Facebook by someone the previous day.

Tsang gives the stuff free to others, rather than seeking to profit from the materials.

Questioned by a reporter, Tsang said that he was fond of hiking since an early age and that the Wan Tsai campsite had become a dream place for him after his retirement.

He said he opted for that life without any compulsion. He stressed that he is not a vagabond or a street sleeper as he has his own properties and a wife and several grown-up children.

Tsang’s wife was initially perplexed at her partner’s move. But after camping with him for some time, she has come to accept his lifestyle choice.

The children also apparently have no problem, as they are planning to come over to the campsite for the New Year’s Eve countdown.

Tsang says he is not the only long-term camper in the area. According to him, many retired civil servants also spend extended periods at the site.

The former soldier says that there are at least 20 vacant camps in the site as of now. Tents had been abandoned, prompting Tsang to collect them and give them out to others for free.

Asked if he was occupying the sites in order to lease them to mainland tourists, Tsang said he has never done such a thing or made any monetary gains. 

Hong Kong’s campsites can be booked through the Leisure and Cultural Services Department. But Tsang says the booking system can be easily manipulated and that people wanting to make money can indeed do so.

In other remarks, he said that the government is ignoring benefits for the elderly while spending too much on “white elephant” infrastructure projects. 

After his story began doing the rounds online, netizens have offered mixed comments.

Some supported him, saying that people should be allowed to enjoy the country parks for extended periods. One commentator remarked that if people like Tsang don’t set up tents, the government will one day sell the sites in the country park to property developers. 

But some accused Tsang of using a loophole in the current law to occupy country park sites, which belong to the public.

A spokesperson for the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department admitted that under the Country Parks and Special Areas Regulations there is no time restriction on occupation of public campsites. 

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About a hundred people have been staying in tents on and off at a Sai Kung camping site. Photo: Facebook

Some occupiers make good use of solar energy. Photo: Facebook

Wan Tsai Peninsular South Campsite is far from the Sai Kung city center. Photo: Google Map

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