An old building famous for its alleged links with Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the founding father of modern China, is expected to remain intact, easing concern Hong Kong may lose another monument of great historic value.
In documents submitted Wednesday to the Legislative Council, the Development Bureau said it has been in discussions with the new owner of Hung Lau, which means Red House, about keeping it as a preservation-cum-development project, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
The bureau said that the owner is applying for government funding for the conservation of the property.
The maximum funding amount is HK$2 million if the application is approved. Ownership of the building cannot be transferred for 10 years and it has to be open to the public, according to the bureau.
Hung Lau is adjacent to Zhongshan Park in Tuen Mun. The building is known for its questionable links to Dr. Sun Yat-sen and his comrades who allegedly drew up plans to overthrow the Qing dynasty and establish the Republic of China in 1912.
However, the bureau said it cannot confirm any direct relationship between Sun and the alleged plot.
Also, it said it cannot confirm if the building was constructed in the early 20th century or if it is the original building.
Hung Lau has a Grade I historic building rating from the government.
Earlier reports said the building’s new owner planned to tear it down for redevelopment. In March, then Secretary for Development Eric Ma Siu-cheung declared the building as a proposed monument so that the government can have time to discuss with the owner about keeping it intact.
Although the risk of demolition is now gone, there are concerns that a trade-off had been reached between the government and the owner, which also owns the land of Zhongshan Park.
Yuen Long district councilor Mak Ip-sing, convenor of a concern group formed to preserve the park and Hung Lau, said the government might have traded the right to redevelop the park’s land for saving the historic building.
Mak said the group paid the owner HK$300,000 in March as a deposit to buy Hung Lau but the money was returned in August. Mak suspected the owner might have something to do with the government.
Andrew Lam Siu-lo, chairman of the Antiquities Advisory Board, said it had discussed grading the park.
The reason it has not done so is lack of evidence of the actual boundary of the activities by Sun Yat-sen and his comrades in the Castle Peak area in Tuen Mun.
Meanwhile, 17 tenants in Hung Lau said they are likely to be forced to move out but they have yet to find an affordable place.
They said they are not eligible for temporary accommodation in centers managed by the Housing Department.
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