Redevelopment vs preservation

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 February, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 February, 2011, 12:00am

A 700-year-old village in Shenzhen is being redeveloped, which has led to a conflict between residents and the developer. The villagers are struggling with their last breath to protect their home.

I strongly disagree with the redevelopment and, if I were one of them, I would struggle until the last moment, too, rather than accepting millions of yuan in compensation. The money means nothing to the villagers when their homes are being demolished.

The redevelopment will destroy the original culture and features of the village. It is not common that a village can exist for 700 years. The villagers have become accustomed to their way of life. I think redeveloping equals destruction in this case.

The government should carefully consider such decisions. The villagers have an absolute right to protect their homes. Neither compensation nor violence would resolve it.

Chan Lok-yan, Aberdeen Baptist Lui Ming Choi College

From the Editor

Thank you for your letter Lok-yan. It seems to be the fashion for everyone to complain about redevelopment. Save this building, don't knock down that house, people cry. But let us take a step back and think about it. Yes, it is sad for someone to lose their home, and no, they should never be forced out by violence. Other solutions must be sought. Compensation is one of them. In an ideal world, I suppose, governments and developers could wait until a generation living in a household died before knocking the house down.

How long can we reasonably expect places to last? If the conservationists had their way, Romans would all still be going to public baths and most Londoners would be living in slums. The fact is that buildings do become outdated and there is not enough space to preserve them all as historical features. We need to be selective about what we preserve or else we will become bogged down and not find a way for cities to modernise.

Let's pick our fights for when they matter.

Susan, Editor