Mixed messages in Sichuan school demolition flap

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 24 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 May, 2012, 12:00am


Conflicting statements about the demolition of a new school in Sichuan, funded with HK$4 million from Hongkongers, were thrown up as Chief Secretary Stephen Lam Sui-lung left for the province.

The Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers said last night it would seek the recovery of its HK$2 million donation, after mainland media reported that the Mianyang Zijing Minzu School was torn down on Saturday.

The original school was destroyed in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. Rebuilt with HK$4 million in donations from Hongkongers, it was reportedly demolished last week to make way for a luxury residential complex.

Li Ze, an officer at the Mianyang Investment Promotion Bureau, told a mainland newspaper on Tuesday that the demolition was 'a selfish move' by the developer who bought the school, and that authorities had 'no idea it was going to happen'.

'Penalties may be announced,' Li was quoted as saying.

But on Monday, the Mianyang government said the school was too small and had to be moved.

Lam has not confirmed that he will discuss the issue in Sichuan. But the Development Bureau said earlier it might ask for the return of its HK$2 million donation.

'The donation to rebuild the premises is from Hong Kong taxpayers and represents Hong Kong's concerns,' Lam said before leaving.

Wong Kwan-yu, chairman of the education workers group, said last week - when the demolition plan became known - that the federation did not plan to ask for its donation back.

'Now I do not know what's happening,' Wong said last night. 'We decided on Tuesday to seek to retrieve our donation.'

Wong said he was told Hong Kong and Mianyang officials would meet to discuss the issue.

The Development Bureau could not confirm such a meeting would be held. Mianyang authorities could not be reached yesterday.