Church abusing its privileged position as caretaker of Kowloon landmark

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 15 January, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 15 January, 2012, 12:00am

That local Catholic and Anglican church leaders should accuse ordinary Hong Kong people of being selfish is stunning in view of the ruthless manner in which both churches pursue their own ends. They ignore the broader interests of the community at large when these are in contrast to their own objectives.

Both churches have steadfastly refused to open up their school governing boards and become more accountable to parents.

The Catholic Church took its case all the way to the Court of Final Appeal, where it lost.

The Anglicans are trying to defer reforms until the new chief executive takes over in July, no doubt in the hope that he will be more amenable to their demands.

Here in Tsim Sha Tsui we face the destruction of the century-old wall and excavation of a green hillside on Nathan Road, in front of St Andrew's Church.

The Anglican Church has the support of an administration that fails to realise the church will bite the hand that feeds it when it suits its purpose. The church is demanding full development rights to (according to an Antiquities Advisory Board memorandum) to excavate the slope and landscaped area fronting the church.

The old wall is part of the boundary of a heritage compound that encompasses the Observatory and the former Kowloon British School, now housing the Antiquities and Monuments Office, both listed monuments.

St Andrew's Church currently has a Grade 2 listing but is being considered for upgrading.

The grounds are an intrinsic part of the church but instead of being the proud caretaker of an enduring Kowloon landmark, the church is planning to remove the shady foliage-covered stretch of road that has brought solace to so many amid the cacophony of this very busy district.

The integrity of the historic compound will be seriously compromised.

It is high time that the clergy climbed down from their high horses, and privileged lifestyles.

They should mix with ordinary citizens to learn how to humbly participate in the daily life of the community they profess to identify with.

Paul Kumar, member, Tsim Sha Tsui Residents' Concern Group

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