Bullet-proof monastery builder didn't want to sue Cheung Kong

Contractor says it wanted peaceful end to HK$335m row over Cheung Kong project

PUBLISHED : Friday, 30 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 30 August, 2013, 7:57am

A contractor that is suing for HK$335 million over the building of a monastery says it tried to settle the matter through discussions but Cheung Kong (Holdings) refused to talk.

Tsz Shan Monastery in Tai Po is home to the world's tallest outdoor bronze statue of Kwun Yum, the Goddess of Mercy, and includes a temple, lecture hall, dormitory blocks, canteen and landscaped gardens.

It also has a two-storey building that has bulletproof doors and windows.

Although the claim is against developer Metta Resources, contractor Chun Wo Building Construction says in the writ that Cheung Kong - owned by Asia's richest man, Li Ka-shing - was involved in the project.

Li and his charity fund reportedly donated more than HK$1 billion to the project.

"We really didn't want to take it to the court," Chun Wo director Edward Yeung, who oversees construction projects, said after the company's shareholder meeting yesterday. "We have operated for 45 years and we have always maintained good relationship with Cheung Kong."

Yeung said multiple changes to the monastery's original plan and special material that the developer requested had driven up costs. There had been no "bulletproof" specifications for the building in the beginning.

But changes were normal and usually matters could be settled through discussions.

"I don't understand why we can't settle them this time," he said. "It was all very sudden."

Li had visited the site and treated the workers to tea during the construction, Yeung said.

Chun Wo chief financial officer Robin Liu Chun-ming said many meetings were held with Cheung Kong before it took the matter to court.

Yeung said the company was still working with Cheung Kong on a project in Kwok Shui Road, and the operation of that project was normal.

He added that the proportion of its business conducted with Cheung Kong had been on the decline in recent years.

Cheung Kong Property Development has said it believes that, based on professional assessments, Metta Resources held a different view of Chun Wo's works.

It would issue a counterclaim after suffering huge losses on the project.

It declined to comment further as the case was ongoing.