Villagers' long struggle home may be near end

Rural leader believes displaced residents can start building new homes in matter of months

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 March, 2013, 3:57am

The displaced villagers of Tsoi Yuen Tsuen should be able to start building their new homes before June, Heung Yee Kuk chairman Lau Wong-fat said as fresh negotiations were being planned yesterday.

Lau said Tsang Hin-keung, rural committee chairman of Pat Heung, where the stand-off has been a source of conflict for three years, would be contacting the company which blocked the private road to the new village site.

Lau, who represents the interests of indigenous New Territories residents, believed the matter could be resolved without the villagers having to fork out cash.

The villagers had been led to believe an unknown benefactor had paid to help them secure use of the private road two years ago. But when they tried to start building the new Tsoi Yuen Tsuen last October, the road was blocked.

They had already lost a two-year battle to save their original homes, which had been bulldozed to make way for a depot for the HK$66.9 billion cross-border railway project. They only agreed to move on the understanding land for a new village and access to it had been secured.

The villagers, who are now living in temporary buildings, last week offered HK$500,000 to neighbouring village Yuen Kong San Tsuen, which controls the road with Charming Star Properties and another firm.

Lau said yesterday that only Charming Star had not agreed to let the villagers use the road. Tsang would talk to director Lau Wai-bing in a few days.

Lau said the secret benefactor had spent more than HK$800,000 in buying access rights two years ago. He refused to comment on whether he was the donor.

"I believe no more money is needed," he said. "It's not about money, but sincerity. If [Tsoi Yuen Tsuen villagers] were calmer, 80 per cent of the problem would be solved."

He said he had told one of the displaced villagers, Ko Chun-heung, to improve her behaviour after she banged the table in a meeting with Yuen Kong San Tsuen representatives.

Tsang said he would arrange a meeting between the two villages soon. "Don't always think money is the solution. Tsoi Yuen Tsuen villagers are asking the other village for a favour. They should show some respect."

Cable TV reported yesterday that that a developer of an estate built along the road had paid HK$80,000 per house for right of access in 2011.