Thousands threaten to 'occupy tunnel' over Sheung Shui village compensation demands

Rural leader threatens to mobilise thousands of people to take over major city road link if new-town compensation demands not met

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 January, 2014, 4:34am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 January, 2014, 9:40am

A Sheung Shui village head has threatened to mobilise thousands of residents to occupy a tunnel in the city if the government rejects their demands for compensation over its plans to demolish homes to make way for a new town.

Kwu Tung South Village representative Tsang Kar-sun aired grievances on behalf of his non-indigenous residents at a Heung Yee Kuk meeting yesterday, amid escalating tensions between the administration and rural communities.

Under government plans, Kwu Tung South will be removed from the map to make way for a new town in the Northeast New Territories.

Last year, the government offered HK$600,000 cash compensation to each eligible family in the affected squatter area. But villagers say it will be of little help.

"The government says each family may get HK$600,000 or a place in public rental housing. But those who choose public rental housing flats will still have to wait," Tsang said. "Also, some big families will be forced to split up … and HK$600,000 is not enough for them to relocate."

He said he agreed with an earlier suggestion that HK$2 million should be offered instead. Alternatively, the government could build new houses near the existing ones for villages to relocate within their neighbourhood.

Tsang said he had support from four nearby villages and would stage an "occupy" movement if the government failed to address demands. "We will lie on the ground in a tunnel and paralyse traffic for a whole day," he said. "We're not afraid of breaking the law to protest against government wrongdoing."

The threat is the latest development in a series of rows between the government and rural forces. Last week, kuk executive committee member Leung Wo-ping vowed to "wrestle with the government" over the plan to incorporate country park enclaves into country park areas, which would restrict development.

In light of the incorporation of Tai Long Sai Wan enclave, the kuk decided to strengthen its political power. At yesterday's meeting, it decided to set up a group to lay out strategies in the next district council and Legislative Council elections.

"We learned a lesson from our struggle and failure in this [Tai Long Sai Wan] incident. Under Hong Kong's political environment nowadays, we wouldn't have power without votes … I think we need to re-position ourselves in the coming elections," kuk chairman Lau Wong-fat said.