Drug rehab school given land to expand
The drug users' rehabilitation school whose efforts to move into an empty school in Mui Wo put it in conflict with residents has been given a temporary solution to its overcrowding.
Christian Zheng Sheng College has been granted 5,000 sq ft of government land near its campus on a rocky Lantau cove, where 109 students live in a building with space for 59. It plans to erect two no-frills buildings on the Ha Keng site, which students will use while the existing premises are renovated.
But the grant is only for five years and the school still hopes to move eventually into the vacant Heung Yee Kuk Southern District Secondary School in Mui Wo.
'We are very happy the government has finally come to realise we really need some more space for our students,' principal Alman Chan Siu-cheuk said yesterday. 'Even though it is temporary, we are happy to accept the offer as we have no idea when we can finally move to Mui Wo.'
The government told the school of the land offer early this week after lobbying by education-sector legislator Cheung Man-kwong.
'Students of the school should have a more comfortable place to study and live,' Cheung said. 'And since there is no sign that the school's relocation can be realised in the near future, I think it is a realistic approach to offer them a temporary site.'
At present, 30 students and five teachers spend the night in accommodation at Lung Tsai Tsuen on Cheung Chau because there is not enough space in the cramped, poorly ventilated cabins that serve as dormitories on the Lantau cove.
The school has sought since 2006 to take over the Mui Wo school but has run into vehement opposition from residents who want the site used as a school for local children. The government has repeatedly told Zheng Sheng that residents' objections have to be ironed out before a move can proceed.
Cheung said the temporary campus offered a good transitional arrangement. 'This does not mean we have given up the Mui Wo relocation plan,' he said. 'But at least the students can enjoy a better environment for their studies.' The government had said it could extend the lease of the land if necessary.
Chan said the school would not give up the fight to move. 'I have to admit that we do not see the matter being settled soon,' he said. 'So for the sake of the students, we are happy to have the land for an extension.'
He said the school would seek government funds set aside for fighting drugs to construct the new buildings. 'We don't know yet how much we need or will seek from the government. But for every four dollars we get from it, we also have to contribute one dollar of our own under the funding requirements,' he said.
A spokesman for the Narcotic Division of Security Bureau said it would continue to support Zheng Sheng in its relocation efforts.