Civic Party moves to save Government Hill

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 June, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 06 June, 2006, 12:00am

The Civic Party is working on a statement on the cultural significance of Government Hill, which it hopes the government will heed.

Party vice-chairman Albert Lai Kwong-tak said the party hoped the government would incorporate the statement, drafted in accordance with international preservation guidelines, into its management plan for the Central Government Offices and Murray Building and not sell the site.

The party will work with academics and town planners on the issue. They will take reference from two sets of non-binding guidelines adopted internationally and on the mainland - the Burra Charter and the China Principles respectively.

Mr Lai said the first step would be to gather and analyse evidence so as to have a thorough understanding of the hill. This will be followed up with a draft statement on its cultural significance

The present form of the Burra Charter was adopted in 1999 when a non-governmental organisation based in Paris -the International Council on Monuments and Sites - had its annual general meeting in Burra Burra, Australia.

'It provides a comprehensive approach to deciding whether a place should be preserved and how it should be preserved. So it is widely followed even though it is an Australian charter,' said Lee Ho-yin, acting programme director of the architectural conservation programme at the University of Hong Kong.

The China Principles were adopted by the mainland government in 2002. It was formulated on the basis of a number of international conservation guidelines, including the Burra Charter.

'It provides basic principles at a national level,' Dr Lee said, adding: 'Taking the two principles as reference is the right approach.'

Government Hill has been home to the city's government since the early colonial days. Conservationists have been calling on the government to preserve the site after the authorities decided to move the headquarters to Tamar.

So far, the government has refused to commit to the area's preservation, saying only that it may turn part of the Central Government Offices on Lower Albert Road into a museum.

Dr Lee said the Burra Charter introduced community participation in conservation. 'It stresses the process must involve different stakeholders. No one should monopolise the interpretation,' he said.