Baptist University plans action to fight flats by Kowloon Tong campus

Class boycotts threatened after government adds site near campus to land-for-sale list

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 02 March, 2013, 5:20am

Alumni and students of Baptist University have threatened action to oppose the government's plan to sell a site next to its campus, to build flats.

They are considering boycotting classes and seeking a judicial review into the government's conduct. Yesterday, about 100 students and lecturers protested, displaying placards with slogans reading, "oppose the government changing the land use" and "support the long-term development of Baptist University".

University president Professor Albert Chan Sun-chi yesterday criticised the government for adding the former Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education site to its list of land for sale, before a public consultation over the future of the site had finished.

"I am scared. If our government works in this way, it is difficult for us to trust [it] any more in the future," Chan said.

I am scared. If our government works in this way, it is difficult for us to trust it any more in the future

The professor, who should have been in Beijing yesterday for a meeting of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, postponed his trip to respond to the government's move.

The site on Renfrew Road, Kowloon Tong, vacant since 2010, is the subject of a two-month public consultation launched by the Town Planning Board to decide whether it should be saved for education or changed to residential use.

But the government said on Thursday that the site, along with 27 others, would be on the land-sale list for residential development this year.

Chan said this meant the consultation was fake and board members would be under pressure to approve the change. "The government has disrespected the public, members of the Town Planning Board, members of the District Council and other related parties," he said.

The university had proposed opening the city's first traditional Chinese medicine teaching hospital on the site, plus more halls of residence. But the government said in a statement to the board there was no need for a teaching hospital so close to the campus.

President of the university's alumni association, Stephen Tang Wing-on, said it might seek a judicial review as the government could have contravened the procedures of public consultation. He did not rule out a class strike by students and teachers.

Secretary for Development Paul Chan Mo-po said that adding the site to the land-sale list did not guarantee that it would be changed to residential use. He said he believed the Town Planning Board would deal with the matter independently and fairly.

The site is one of the 36 GIC sites - designated for government, institute and community use - picked in January for rezoning to ease the housing shortage.