Sai Wan villagers dig in to oppose incorporation into Sai Kung East Country Park

Inhabitants of Tai Long Wan hamlet threaten to take protest to offices of 'shameless' government

PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 21 June, 2013, 5:15am

Villagers have vowed to take tougher action if the government refuses to reverse its decision to incorporate a private enclave on Sai Kung's Tai Long Wan coast into the surrounding country park.

Their statement was made in a Heung Yee Kuk meeting yesterday, at which rural representatives expressed their anger at the decision. More than 300 people attended the session, and three representatives from Sai Wan village, which would become part of Sai Kung East Country Park, shaved their heads in protest.

The three were village head Lai Yan, his brother Lai Kwan, and Thomas Lai, a villager who applied for legal aid for a judicial review. Lai Yan said if the government did not respond to their request in a month, the villagers would protest at its headquarters in Tamar.

Thomas Lai said the application for legal aid was in its final stages and said he expected it to be approved soon.

Up to 30 people live in the village, and they complained that the government had done little to improve their lives. There was no road assess to the village and no mail service, they said.

Lai Yan said that if the government could move the village to somewhere with better infrastructure, its inhabitants would not mind leaving. He also doubted the government's stated intention to conserve the land, as his earlier complaints about pollution and damage to the beach had not been properly dealt with.

"We don't have a lot of people in Sai Wan, but we won't give up," Lai Yan insisted. "The government is shameless."

People at the meeting also said the government was not keeping a promise made in the 1970s that private land would not be included in country parks.

In minutes supplied by the kuk, the then assistant director of agriculture, fisheries and conservation said all land brought into country parks had to have been abandoned, and that if villagers later returned, the land would cease to be a part of the park.

Kuk head Lau Wong-fat said the government had not properly consulted the rural body.

The conservation department said the Country and Marine Parks Board had received nine objections to the decision but decided to go ahead after conducting hearings.