Senior official's plan for house in sensitive area is unacceptable

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 14 April, 2015, 4:38pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 14 April, 2015, 4:38pm

I am a regular visitor to the as-yet unblemished historical Ham Tin village and beautiful Tai Long Wan Beach in Sai Kung East Country Park.

Rumours circulating in the press about planning applications for Ham Tin seem to have been confirmed ("Conservation official's plan to build homes in Sai Kung village sparks uproar", April 6).

Hopefully the planning authorities will listen to the objections and dismiss this application on the basis that this is not an appropriate development.

It seems that the village is in dire need of the extra protection suggested (in your report) by the Antiquities and Monuments Office.

Shouldn't we be renovating and preserving the historical houses that are already in Ham Tin?

Furthermore, it is shocking that one of the five applications to build there comes from Dr Thomas Sit Hon-chung, an assistant director of the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department.

This is the very department that is tasked with the conservation and management of our natural environment so that it is there to "pass on to our future generations", as its mission statement reads on its website.

I wondered what Alan Wong Chi-kong, the department's director, thought on this issue, so I wrote to him. His reply was simply that that this was a private matter for Dr Sit. I disagree.

Though the planning application may be in accordance with regulations, as an assistant director, Thomas Sit ought to realise that he has higher responsibilities. He should not just be following the letter of the law and regulations, he should be setting a good example to the people of Hong Kong. Sadly, he seems to be doing the opposite.

Taxpayers funding civil service salaries have a right to expect officials to have a sincere belief in, and a commitment to, their missions. And that should encompass both their public and private actions.

I fear that this application may kick-start the modern development of Ham Tin and the destruction of an important piece of Hong Kong's heritage.

I urge the planning authorities to dismiss the application, and Mr Wong to protect Ham Tin from all those who seek to exploit it. Or are empty words on a website all that we may expect from this department?

R. Cowler, Sai Kung