HKBU teachers, students protest land decision

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 January, 2013, 7:05pm
UPDATED : Friday, 25 January, 2013, 7:16pm

Students and teachers from Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) are stepping their fight for a site adjacent to its main campus, after a planning board approved a proposal to turn half of it into residential flats.

Raising placards and shouting slogans, hundreds of them demonstrated at North Point Government Offices, where members of the Town Planning Board approved the proposal.

The proposal, raised by the Planning Department, suggested giving half of the site on Renfrew Road in Kowloon Tong – a district of high-end residential flats – to the HKBU, and reserving the other half for private residential flats.

The protesting students said the university needed the whole of the site as their campus could not accommodate their hostel needs, especially after the introduction of the so-called “3+4+4” academic reform.

“We will not back off, under any circumstances,” said Baptist University’s student union leader Ahson Wong Hok-kan.

The row came at a time when the government is desperate to find more land for flats to curb rising property prices and a shortage of housing.

Last December, the government announced half the land at the site would now be reserved for private residential flats.

What upset the university more were remarks made by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying during a radio programme on his policy address about two week ago.

Leung then said the government had an agreement with HKBU that half of the land would be used for student hostels – and the other half for private residential flats.

His remarks prompted a quick rebuttal by the university, which said it had never come to such an agreement, or indicated so.

The university said it had been requesting the land since 2005 to build student hostels and a Chinese medicine school under an expansion plan to meet demands arising from academic reform.