Sichuan returns HK$2m after rebuilt school is razed
Sichuan authorities have returned to the Hong Kong government a HK$2 million donation that was used to build a school that has been pulled down to make way for luxury flats.
Chief Secretary Stephen Lam Sui-lung confirmed yesterday that provincial officials had given back the sum, after an outcry over the demolition in Mianyang city prompted the Hong Kong government to show its unequivocal disapproval.
Lam said: 'I put forth our very reasonable position that the Mianyang authorities should reallocate or return the HK$2 million to the fund for reconstructing Sichuan. They have already done so.'
The Mianyang Bauhinia Ethnic Secondary School - which served ethnic minority children in the southwestern province - was rebuilt with HK$4 million, half from the Hong Kong government and half from an education group known as the Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers, after the catastrophic earthquake in 2008.
The school reopened in March 2010 with full facilities. But it was then sold to construction group Wanda, which knocked it down on May 19 for redevelopment despite a media expose about the pending works. Mainland media reported that the Mianyang authorities invited tenders for the sale of the site in December 2010, and sold it to Wanda for 390 million yuan (HK$477.7 million) a month later.
Lam repeated the government's objection to the destruction.
'We never agreed on ... the demolition,' he said. 'The Mianyang authorities raised this possibility. We objected and made our position known in no uncertain terms to the Sichuan provincial government.
'After the demolition, they did not inform us.'
The school was part of Hong Kong's multimillion-dollar effort to help rebuild Sichuan.
Lam said 95 per cent of 190 projects with Hong Kong funding had been finished, and teams of engineers and inspectors had been sent to assess the progress of the projects.