Two historic buildings declared monuments
The century-old home of a revolutionary colleague of Dr Sun Yat-sen, which has been quietly decaying near the border, has been given legal protection as a monument after a 12-year struggle between the government and the former owner's youngest son.
Few knew Ip Ting-sz was a close follower of the father of modern China until his son Ip Sui-shan proposed donating the house to the government as a monument after Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997.
But his offer was not accepted until he found written evidence in Thailand that his father was one of 30 core members recruited by Sun in Bangkok to form his revolutionary organisation, Tung Meng Hui.
The Antiquities and Monuments Office said yesterday the government would spend HK$7.6 million to restore the house at Lin Ma Hang Tsuen in Sha Tau Kok, which was modelled on Sun's home in Zhongshan's Cuiheng village.
'I hope my father can be recognised as a forerunner of the revolution,' the 78-year-old son said, adding he would like to participate in management of the house when it was opened for public visits in 2011.
He said his father, an important figure in the revolution that ousted the Qing dynasty, had died at the house 'in sickness and hunger' in 1943 at the age of just 63.
'He had no money left as it had all been spent to support the revolutionary activities overseas.'
The house is made of green bricks and timber with a pitched tiled roof. It has a covered porch with columns supporting the balcony, with ceramic vase-shaped balusters on the first floor. It was built in 1908, a year after the elder Ip met Sun in Thailand and started his revolutionary career.
Ip went to Thailand at the age of 18 to work as an apprentice tailor. His career went well and he was authorised by the country's king to manufacture military uniforms for his army. The king also named a street with Ip's literary name, Kwong-san.
But things changed after he set up the Chinese Club in 1907 with Sun to rally support for revolutionary activities among overseas Chinese, especially Hakka people. Ip lost his uniform business and his property was confiscated by the government.
After the 1911 revolution, he moved to Guangzhou and organised activities against Yuan Shi-kai, provisional president of the Republic of China, who briefly declared himself emperor. Ip did not return to his home in Lin Ma Hang until 1936.
While not giving official recognition to Ip's revolutionary role, the government said it would display his life story on a plaque in the residence.
A person familiar with the declaration process said it was hard to prove whether Ip had really taken part in the 1911 revolution. 'The revolution was secret and many of the participants were unsung heroes. It is a difficult task to prove and give such recognition,' the person said.
Yesterday's declaration also included a Qing dynasty school, the Yan Tun Kong Study Hall in Yuen Long, built to educate members of the Tang clan in Ping Shan to prepare them for the Imperial Civil Service Examinations. It now serves as an ancestral hall and will be restored by the government at a cost of HK$6.9 million. It will open to the public in 2011.