NT village concept can save heritage

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 February, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 19 February, 2001, 12:00am

Kudos to Kevin Sinclair for his report on Wan Yuet-kau ('Centralised village plan can defuse rural land timebomb,' South China Morning Post, February 14). It seems to me that Mr Wan presents a wise and fair solution to the paradox of preserving Hong Kong's historical heritage and economic progress.

I have spent the past year re-exploring the villages of the New Territories after a 10-year hiatus. Throughout I have encountered unfailing friendliness from the villagers. Of historical remains, I found that there was more than I had anticipated but less than I would have hoped. Never would I suggest that the inhabitants of an ancient home must retain an archaic way of life just because it is arguably more aesthetic.

Progress cannot be denied. But it is still not too late to offer an equitable arrangement if the Government acts now. In my opinion, Mr Wan presents an ideal formula in suggesting the Government exchange land rights in historically or geographically significant areas for a 'properly designed community' on otherwise vacant agricultural land.

What took 100 years to build may be destroyed in only a day. I cannot but feel that the loss of any tangible remains of the great efforts and unique accomplishments of Hong Kong's ancestors may be a loss which can never again be retrieved. Is it not a shame to see history only in a museum? This decision is not about preserving history for the advantage of tourism. It is about having somewhere to take your child and be able to say 'In the days of your great, great, great grandfather our ancestors lived here.' The child will realise with a wonder which is hard to achieve in a museum.


Causeway Bay