Early move for rehab school unlikely
Joshua But and Elaine Yau
There is only a slim chance of a Lantau drug rehabilitation school being relocated to Mui Wo before summer, the chairman of the Action Committee Against Narcotics says.
Professor Daniel Shek Tan-lei says the relocation project for Christian Zheng Sheng College is subject to political considerations.
The school has renewed calls for its move after the Independent Commission Against Corruption ended a six-month probe and cleared the school of allegations of corruption and malpractice.
Shek said the end to the probe could be a huge boost to the relocation project but it was unlikely to be resolved soon.
'I see a slim chance for a move before the summer holiday,' Shek, a former acting supervisor of the school, said in an RTHK interview yesterday.
'There are political considerations for the government, as it needs to settle opposition from Mui Wo residents and rural leaders.'
He said the administration also expected the college to clear up its accounts before it could be offered a vacant site, originally occupied by the Heung Yee Kuk Southern District Secondary School.
'The government has to be very cautious, but I am confident that it will deal with the matter very soon,' Shek said.
An Education Bureau spokeswoman said the college had to clear up doubts the public had about its finances. 'It's they themselves who said they would clean up the books to quell public doubts,' she said.
The college had to submit all documents showing its accounts before the relocation could proceed.
'We are preparing a document about the relocation issue, which will clearly spell out our stance,' she said. 'The document will be handed to Legco today or tomorrow.'
Yesterday, Shek also said that the city's policy on the drug rehabilitation centre was out of date, as it did not identify young drug abusers as students but patients.
'The concept has been changed in overseas countries, and the drug school model, like Zheng Sheng College, could be a viable model in the light of the worsening youth drug abuse problem,' he said.
Despite the result of the ICAC investigation, some Mui Wo residents have vowed to continue their fight to reopen the former secondary school for local residents. Mui Wo rural committee member and Islands District councillor Wong Fuk-kan said he held talks with angry residents yesterday. Some had told him they were infuriated by the ICAC findings, which they said were not convincing. 'We will never give up our fight no matter what happens. The school should be used to benefit local residents,' Wong said.
The Education Bureau last month rejected an application by the Heung Yee Kuk and Mui Wo residents to take over the vacant school site and turn it into a direct subsidy scheme school offering a curriculum emphasising nature and liberal studies.
Principal Alman Chan Siu-cheuk said he hoped the college would be relocated as soon as possible so it could take in more teenagers. He said it should not be delayed by further administrative arrangements.
Chan said he was disappointed accountants Ernst & Young had pulled out of a project to split the accounts of the college and its sponsoring body, the Christian Zheng Sheng Association, but the college had already been in contact with another agency to take on the job. He expected it to be done in a few months.