New Territories villagers air views over government's new-towns plans
Ada Lee and Jolie Ho
Villagers who would be forced to make way if the government redevelops parts of the northeastern New Territories vowed yesterday to defend their homes.
More than 130 affected individuals and representatives of concern groups attended a meeting of the Legislative Council's development panel to air their views on the government's plans.
Under the plans, 553 hectares of land in Fanling North, Kwu Tung North, Ta Kwu Ling and Ping Che would be used to provide 53,800 homes for 152,000 people. The plans, if implemented, could see up to 10,000 villagers evicted from their homes.
Some of those at the meeting called for the plans to be scrapped while others said they were necessary and asked the government to speed up development of the land.
"I don't want to leave," said Kwu Tung resident Chung Hiu-ching, 19. "Why should the government sacrifice my way of life to cater to others? They said it's for Hongkongers. Am I not a Hongkonger?"
"Do not try to bully us like we are Tsoi Yuen Tsuen," said a Ping Che resident, referring to a New Territories village demolished last year to make room for a high-speed rail line to Shenzhen.
The villagers, all non-indigenous, said the government barely consulted them on the plans.
Permanent Secretary for Development Thomas Chow Tat-ming said the government would listen to different views, and a report on public consultations on the plans would be released before the end of June.
He also said that the proportion of public housing in the project could be increased to more than half.
As for suggestions that the government should look at the possibility of developing a nearby golf course instead of the proposed area, Chow said it would take too long to make new plans.
Labour Party lawmaker Cyd Ho Sau-lan suggested that the government set up an independent team of social workers to look after the villagers' rights.
About 100 northeast New Territories residents gathered at the government headquarters yesterday to urge the administration to retract its plans to develop the area and to stop broadcasting public service announcements promoting the development.
They also marched to Henderson Land's headquarters at Two IFC to demand the property developer stop evicting villagers and destroying their farmland.
"Property developers started resuming land more than 10 years ago, even though the government has not reached any conclusion on development of the northeastern New Territories," said Cho Kai-kai, a member of the League of Fanling North Villages and Residents.