19 January 2019
Wang Chau villagers launched fresh protest action Monday over the government's controversial housing development plan. Photo: TVB
Wang Chau villagers launched fresh protest action Monday over the government's controversial housing development plan. Photo: TVB

Wang Chau villagers call on Lam to suspend housing project

Dozens of people from Wang Chau in Yuen Long launched a fresh appeal to authorities to suspend a planned housing project in the area, arguing that the project could leave some villagers homeless.

Calling on Carrie Lam’s incoming administration to reconsider the controversial plan to develop Wang Chau, people from three villages-Wing Ning Tsuen, Fung Chi Tsuen and Yeung Uk San Tsuen — marched from Chater Garden to the chief executive-elect’s office at Champion Tower in Central on Monday.

Wearing white T-shirts with the word “injustice” painted in red and holding banners against relocation, the protesters made their feelings clear.

During the march, three representatives knelt down after every three steps, adding a dramatic touch, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

The demonstrators urged Lam to deliver justice by suspending the project after she takes office. They called on authorities to hold discussions over Wang Chau development before an order to take land from the three villages is gazetted.

An appeal letter from the villagers was passed to an employee from Lam’s office.

The Wang Chau saga came under spotlight last year after newly-elected lawmaker Eddie Chu Hoi-dick claimed he received death threats following the Legco election because of matters related to land development and housing in the New Territories.

The housing project in Wang Chau, launched in 2012, saw only 4,000 public homes built, although the original proposal called for the construction of 17,000 units, prompting Chu to suspect that it was scaled down at the behest of some rural landlords who are allegedly backed by gangsters.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has denied accusations that the government was colluding with vested interests to scale back the Wang Chau housing project to 4,000 units, insisting that the original plan to build 17,000 homes in the area remains on track.

Last month the Legislative Council’s Finance Committee approved a HK$12.4 billion funding package for more than 9,000 public works projects, including the controversial one in Wang Chau.

Wing Ning Tsuen chief Chan Oi-kam said the plan to remove the villages is unreasonable and that it lacked proper consultation.

As villagers fear they may be left homeless, they have taken to the streets, he said, adding that they opted for the action as authorities have been refusing to communicate with them.

Edward Yiu Chung-yim, a lawmaker who represents the architecture functional constituency in the Legislative Council, accompanied the protesters in the Monday rally and urged the government to take reference to a solution he has proposed, Apple Daily reports.

Yiu suggested that the government can develop part of the so-called brownfield sites in the Wang Chau area into public homes first.

Such strategy will not only ensure a boost in housing supply, it will also allow people living in the three villages to keep their homes, he said.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on April 18

[Chinese version 中文版]

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