Political turn at Mei Foo as protesters halt truck
The Mei Foo saga took a political turn yesterday, as a developer suspected of having links with the leading pro-establishment party tried to resume work on a disputed tower, three days after the incumbent Civic Party councillor was ousted at the polls.
The drama at Mei Foo Sun Chuen began at about 10am when a contractor for Billion Star Development drove a truck to within a metre of seven protesting residents, who were standing or sitting in the middle of the road to stop it entering the construction site.
'I've got to do my work! Or I'll be fired!' the truck driver yelled, demanding that the masked protesters let him into the site, an open area near Mei Foo Phase 8. Several workers made the same request and filmed the scene.
The residents, supported by about 20 neighbours, remained silent and refused to move as the truck drove towards them without slowing down before stopping suddenly.
The stalemate ended 90 minutes later when the truck left. Police keeping order at the scene did not arrest anyone, saying no one was hurt.
Mei Foo Phase 8 residents, who campaigned for months, said the 20-storey tower project was illegal, as it would 'steal' their development rights. It would also block sunlight and views. They organised a lie-down protest that drew 500.
They and Billion Star are suing each other.
The protesters believe the company is backed by New World Development, which declined to comment yesterday. They also suspect that the timing of the developer's action yesterday was linked with the district council election result in which Wong Tat-tung, of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, defeated incumbent Civic Party councillor Wong Tak-chuen, who had led the protests.
New World tycoon Henry Cheng Kar-shun is a member of the DAB
'DAB and New World are together. Now they've got the power, they can take action and give a warning to residents,' a post on a Facebook group run by protesters said.
Wong of the DAB showed up in Mei Foo yesterday only after the protest ended, saying he was against the project and had gone to Central to hand a letter to the developer's boss.
'We are getting influential people inside and outside our party to negotiate with Billion Star,' Wong said.
'We have 20,000 members in our party and [Henry Cheng] is one. But ... members have different views and it's not possible to entertain everyone.' Wong said he did not know whether the company had links with New World. While Wong said he had got Billion Star to promise that it would not resume work before a December court hearing, a spokesman for the developer said it 'had no direct communications' with Wong.
'We want to resume work as soon as possible,' the spokesman said.
Resident Lo Chung-cheong said it was unreasonable of the developer to resume work before the court hears its injunction application next month. 'My previous protests have dragged me into the lawsuit. I am worried I will lose all my money.'