Islands councillor criticises failure to consult residents

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 June, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 June, 2009, 12:00am

An Islands District councillor criticised the government for failing to consult Mui Wo residents and the council about a drug rehabilitation school's expansion plan earlier, because Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen was aware of local opposition to the proposal last year.

The exchange between Christian Zheng Sheng College and Mr Tsang began when the private secretary to the chief executive phoned the college in May last year.

'The secretary called me and said Mr Tsang expressed interest in visiting our school. So we sent out an invitation to him and tried to fix a date for his visit,' principal of the school Alman Chan Siu-cheuk said.

'My guess is that the call was made after he read the South China Morning Post report that day about our worries that we might not be able to get the vacant school site in Mui Wo, as we learnt that residents had asked an international school to apply for the use of the site.'

Mr Chan received an e-mail a day after the phone call in May last year which said: 'Thank you for your e-mail, forwarding a meeting request to the chief executive and inviting the chief executive to visit your centre. The invitation is now under consideration and we shall give you a substantive reply as soon as possible.'

A month later, Mr Chan received another e-mail from an assistant private secretary to Mr Tsang.

'We appreciate the good efforts you and staff of the Christian Zheng Sheng Association have made over the years in helping the less fortunate young people in Hong Kong,' the e-mail said. 'I should let you know, however, that there is a competing claim on the ex-school premises in question, and that your proposal has attracted some local objection.

'We regret that the chief executive is unable to meet with you or pay a visit to the centres due to other engagements,' the e-mail said.

Islands district councillor and member of Mui Wo Rural Committee Rainbow Wong Fuk-kan said the government should have openly consulted Mui Wo residents last year.

'Why does the government have to wait so long? It only officially informed the residents and district councillors this month. If only we had learned that so many parties had applied for use of the site, we would also help the college find a solution while catering to the needs of Mui Wo residents. Misunderstanding and conflicts could have been avoided,' Mr Wong.

When asked yesterday when Mr Tsang would visit and his view on criticism about the lack of consultation, his office said: 'The chief executive spoke on the relocation of Zheng Sheng College at the Foreign Correspondents' Club on June 15, you may wish to refer to the transcript ... The chief executive will regularly conduct visits to gain first-hand information of issues of public concern.'