• Tue
  • Jul 29, 2014
  • Updated: 5:35pm
NewsHong Kong
DEVELOPMENT

New Territories villagers say they never intended violence at Legco

But in the glare of media, and with other activists joining in, things got out of control -- a situation they hope to avoid in another demonstration this Friday

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 June, 2014, 10:25am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 June, 2014, 12:54pm
 

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19 Jun 2014
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The group of villagers who boarded buses for the two-hour commute to the Legislative Council building from the northeastern New Territories on Friday did not intend the excursion to end in smashed windows and scuffles with police, they said.

They had only one simple plea: to protect their rural homes from being razed for new towns.

But in the full glare of the media, things got out of control, resulting in mayhem, police arrests – and bad press for the villagers.

Now, as they prepare for another showdown at the Tamar premises this Friday, they hope peace will prevail.

Kwu Tung North villager Chow Koot-yin, 26, lamented last week’s outcome, saying it was not expected.

“Our bottom line was to avoid injury and property damage,” she said. “All we wanted was to highlight the injustice of the [new-towns] plan. We are not looking for drama or violence … This same bottom line will be upheld this Friday.”

Chow’s village, close to a century old, is one of several in Kwu Tung North and Fanling North to be demolished should construction of the two new towns, which will include more than 60,000 flats, receive approval.

Activists concerned for the villagers’ plight joined them in their demonstration at Legco. Last Friday, about 200 protesters tried to force their way into the barricaded building as the Finance Committee was discussing the government’s funding request for HK$340 million to carry out preliminary engineering works.

Chow said they had not reached a consensus with the activists ahead of time on how to proceed.

The committee reconvenes this Friday, and Legco president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing vowed on Tuesday to beef up security measures. Tsang said the protesters had deliberately tried to breach the building’s security last week.

Li Yin-fong, a Kwu Tung North resident of more than 20 years, expressed disappointment that many newspapers over the week had branded the demonstrators as violent.

“I understand many of the youngsters were angry about the meeting procedures,” Li said. “When they saw [committee chairman Ng Leung-sing], they just lost it.”

 

Asked whether she would endorse the same extreme tactics this Friday, Li said the protesters “had her support” but those who resorted to violence would have to “understand and bear the consequences”.

Friday’s rally started at about 3pm, and by 12.45am, some 100 people remained sitting outside the building.

Many of the villagers present were elderly residents who had left by 10pm. One of them was a 60-year-old grandmother who gave her name only as Granny Kuen.

“When I got back home I couldn’t sleep and my head hurt so much,” she said.

“Do you think I really want to travel two hours on a bus to the city? We are also reluctant. But we have no choice as the government is forcing us to come out.”

 

 

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9

This article is now closed to comments

Beaker
Is this any different than across the border, a corrupt Commie village official grabs the orchards the villagers used to eat from and sell fruits for cash, he pockets the money from a corrupt factory owner. The village official drives off in his new black Audi to his new home and the villagers are forced to be migrant factory workers in the city? We know this happens all the time in Mainland and are disgusted by that. But, how is this any different? What do we need two more Shatin New Cities? What is wrong with villages and rolling green lands? Sure, the villagers were dupes led to the protest by dark forces with their own suicidal agenda. The dark forces will do their best to force someone to get killed to create a martyr. They already have the propaganda written up with blanks for the name of the dupe who gets killed to fill in. Most likely, it will be reported the guy was a teacher and loved by all. These dark forces better be careful. If the PLA leaves the garrison, they will not go back. The thin veil that HK is not actually a Mainland city will crumble and the stock market will collapse. This may be what the Min. of HK&Macao affairs want. He is just tired of marches and protests. He cannot keep it from the videos and Weibos that people are doing this in HK weekly, and are still alive. He might be thinking, time to put an end to this charade and get one with 1 China, 1 System.
keepon
Not enough compensation is not an excuse that kind of violence.
Kubrick
If they did not intend violence, then why did they allow the radicals to come armed and ready to create mayhem. The evidence is before our eyes that this was premeditated attack on our seat of government aimed at stopping a rational debate.
blue
Yeah I really can't blame anyone from raging and smashing up Legco if the only compensation is a means tested 600k!!!!!!!! Like Paradox said, that is nothing! They're going to be homeless, lose their community, and their way of life! The villagers are receiving no benefit out of this deal!

This is a robbery!
Paradox314
"means-tested compensation of HK$600,000 each"
No wonder they are upset! Their homes could not come anywhere close to being replaced for this amount of money. You can't buy anything worth living in for $600,000 in HK - absolutely ridiculous! The government ought to be deeply ashamed to treat HK people so shabbily. (just so that some already rich and powerful land developers can get richer yet!!)
And it's means-tested, to boot! Some will receive even less if they are found to have other money. But why - these are their homes that they have lived in for generations.
joyalsofi
Seems like a golf course ought to be the first to go instead of these villagers but then it seems those making the decisions feel more attuned with elite sporting facilities than with the lives of ordinary people.
Paradox314
Absolutely!! I know you are writing tongue-in-cheek, but I feel strongly that your comment points to a very serious question of values and might well be taken quite literally. Should we destroy an occupied historic village or a golf course to make way for new development? The clearly moral answer must be to use the golf course land.
ton1998
Time change and sometimes you need to move for new development .
Paradox314
...and ride rough-shod over real people living in homes and villages their families have lived in for generations? - not too far off driving tanks over unarmed protesters if you ask me.
 
 
 
 
 

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