Po Leung Kuk leader's much-loved villa rots

PUBLISHED : Friday, 02 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 02 September, 2011, 12:00am


The elegant Yu Yuen villa was commissioned by construction-business-leader Tsoi Po-tin in 1934 as a summer villa for his family living on Hong Kong Island. Built in European style and surrounded by fruit trees, it became a local attraction and was opened to the public in the 1950s.

Tsoi was a leader of the charity Po Leung Kuk and was behind many well known projects in Hong Kong and Guangzhou, including the Oi Kwan building - the first high-rise in Guangzhou, according to the Antiquities and Monuments Office. Yu Yuen was among his favourites.

It is now only a shadow of its former glory, used as a rubbish dump and by children playing ghoulish games, particularly during the Chinese ghost festival.

A recent visit by the South China Morning Post found the entrance almost entirely blocked by empty plastic petrol cans.

Its beautiful woodland no longer exists, and in its place is a sandy site used to store construction materials.

Banyan trees now grow on the side of the building. Dead branches are tied in bundles, filling the drawing room. On the second floor, paper offerings are scattered. A table with burnt candles stuck on its four corners stands near the centre of the room. There's burn marks on the walls, and paper peeling from them. Bits of broken wooden window and door frames lie about.

A fountain is the only remainder of the garden in front of the house, which has become a car park.

'People say this is a ghost house,' said Choi Hing-chung, nephew of Tsoi. 'Of course it is not.

'It used to be a beautiful place.'