'Errors being repeated' at Po Lin
The government has been accused of repeating its mistakes in the handling of King Yin Lei mansion by allowing pre-war buildings to be destroyed at Po Lin Monastery.
Members of the Antiquities Advisory Board, which advises the government on the evaluation of old buildings, complained that the government had not consulted them about the demolition. They want to discuss the issue at a board meeting next month.
A spokesman for the Antiquities and Monuments Office, which is responsible for heritage preservation, said the historic value of the structures was assessed before they were demolished. They were of little historic value and similar structures could easily be found in other temples in Hong Kong, it said.
Bernard Lim Wan-fung, a member of the Antiquities Advisory Board, said the government never consulted the board on whether the buildings should be preserved.
'The Antiquities and Monuments Office still lags behind the social pulse. This issue should be widely discussed,' he said.
Another board member, Ng Cho-nam, said the government was not sensitive and proactive enough in preserving cultural heritage.
'Although the temple is on private land, it's open to the public and tourists - they have the right to know about the demolition,' he said.
Po Lin Monastery started a multimillion-dollar expansion years ago to enhance the temple's attraction to tourists and its services to Buddhist followers.
A cluster of 80-year-old granite houses, components of the original monastery, will soon be demolished. One of these is the Hall of Perfect Enlightenment, where monks previously performed morning and night lessons. Roof tiles and wooden supports from the two-storey houses were removed this week.
Also slated for demolition is the Diamond Cave, where senior monks used to go to eat, and the Library of the Buddhist Canon, home of a rare imperial Buddhist teaching script dating to the Qing dynasty.
When all structures are demolished and cleared, a five-storey-high 'Temple of Ten Thousand Buddhas' will be built on the site to house Buddhist exhibits, canons, altars and collections of teachings.
The work on the temple buildings is expected to be completed in 2009.