Protesters lobby lawmakers to save market
Residents, business people and heritage supporters yesterday demonstrated outside the Legislative Council against a proposal to demolish Stanley Market.
A group of nearly 60 representatives also met members of the Democratic Party and the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong. They submitted a 3,000-signature petition and more than 400 letters protesting against the plan.
The protest is the latest in a series of measures taken against the proposal since the South China Morning Post reported at the end of March that an unnamed developer wanted to build three shopping blocks on government land now occupied by the market's stalls.
Under the plan, a nine-storey, 89-room hotel would also be built on an adjacent 560-square-metre site, which is privately owned.
Tourism industry leaders, dozens of Post letter writers and about 90 per cent of 1,200 tourists and village residents polled by the Democratic Party have opposed the plans.
Yvonne Fitzsimmons, of the Stanley Restaurant Association, told the legislators she had received hundreds of letters opposing the proposal.
'The Government is spending a lot of money to bring tourists here, but at Stanley we already have a major attraction - it does not have to be built,' she said.
Market stallholder Susan So Choi Sau-lan, whose family has lived in Stanley for more than three generations, said the open-air market by the sea made the area an attractive destination.
'People used to always head to the New Territories, but since the new towns and shopping malls were built, you never hear of people trekking out there any more.
'Who would make a special trip to visit a shopping mall?' she said.
Ms Fitzsimmons said a group called Enhancing Stanley as a Tourist Area was planning a meeting for next Tuesday and had drawn up an eight-step action plan to tackle the issue in the long term.
'This is just the beginning,' she said.
The Planning Department has said it will submit to the Town Planning Board at the end of the month a paper stating its view that the proposed 33-metre-high hotel is too tall.
A report released by the independent think-tank Civic Exchange yesterday called for the establishment of a conservation authority with high-level powers to help preserve Hong Kong's heritage.