Scuffles broke out on Saturday during an open-air forum among opponents and supporters of a controversial government plan to develop three new towns in the north-east New Territories.
Despite Secretary for Development Paul Chan Mo-po’s last minute efforts to ease public concerns, the forum soon erupted into angry outburts from protestors opposed to the plan.
Villagers, environmentalists and social activists waved banners and yelled slogans, urging the government to scrap the plan. Some 6000 people were said to have reserved seats at Saturday’s forum, which lasted about 2.5 hours.
Chan said told the forum he thought the plan should still go ahead.
“I hope the public will understand that the land supply in Hong Kong is really limited. As the New Territories is the major source of our land supply, it is inevitable that this land is needed for development.”
“We are aware that there are some people who work in the affected areas and have not received compensation. We are working together with Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department to see whether we can offer them some.”
But a representative of the villagers emotionally stated that they did not want to move from their homes and would not accept compensation.
Several clashes broke out at the forum, and at one point, people began shoving each other.
Police later stepped between two groups to allow people to express their views.
The host of the forum also appealed for calm after protesters angrily denounced the forum as a ‘fake consultation”.
The forum started at 2.30pm and ended at 5pm.