Beach is lifeline for stroke victim
A small beach littered with stones may not be the most appealing spot to escape the summer heat, but for housewife Wong Fong-li, who needs daily aquatherapy to recover from a stroke, it is the best affordable option.
'Going to the public swimming pool would cost a few hundred dollars a month. I just can't afford it,' said Wong, who lives on a public housing estate in Ma On Shan. Wong was upset, therefore, to hear about the government's proposal to reclaim up to 99 hectares at Wu Kai Sha, which would destroy the beach.
Wong started swimming at the natural pebble beach near the Wu Kai Sha Youth Village six years ago. 'My doctor advised me to swim every day after I suffered from a stroke about 10 years ago. My right hand and leg just don't move freely,' she said.
Back then, there was no road to the beach because it was not managed by the government or designated for swimming. 'Swimmers had to walk through the grass and on a rocky path,' Wong said.
A road has since been put in but it lacks a lifeguard or changing rooms.
Nevertheless, residents love the place and people come from Sha Tin and Tai Wai to walk their dogs and appreciate the sunset.
Wong cycles to the beach every morning and calls out to other regulars. While hundreds of people went to the beach in the early morning and evening during summer, a core group of about 30 swimmers went year-round, and maintained the daily pilgrimage in winter, she said.
The chairman of Sha Tin district council, Ho Hau-cheung, said the reclamation's impact on marine life and archaeological sites was also of public concern, prompting the council to move a motion on Thursday objecting to the government's proposal.
The council also urged the government to designate Wu Kai Sha as an official beach, and improve safety and infrastructure at the site.
According to an environmental impact assessment report approved by the government in 2002, an area adjacent to the beach - part of To Tau - contains prehistoric archaeological deposits dating back to the late Neolithic period.