DEVELOPMENT

Farmer vows to continue fight to stay on land in Fanling Village

A week after protest, resident warns further efforts to remove tenants 'may see blood'

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 March, 2014, 3:15am
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 March, 2014, 4:46am

Further moves by the government to take a soon-to-be-developed plot of land in a Fanling village could be met with more resistance and even bloodshed, says a long-time farmer.

The warning from Lai Wing-kuen, 56, comes a week after Lands Department officials, flanked by police officers, tried to take back government land in the area, only to withdraw after a three-hour stand-off with protesting villagers.

"We will fight until the end," Lai said yesterday. "I don't rule out the possibility that we may see blood."

Ma Shi Po is one of a dozen villages included in the government's new development areas in the northeast New Territories.

Lai has been growing fig-leaf gourds on 40 hectares of occupied government land in the village for three decades.

But he is now being forced out after losing a public tender for a short-term tenancy to a "mysterious company" that was set up just three days before the tendering process last October.

"[The government] said they would support and protect the rights of farmers. These are all lies," said Lai.

"We've been here so long, all we are asking is to let us continue farming here until development actually commences."

Lawmaker Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung said he would help Lai file a complaint to the Legislative Council's public complaints office.

"We are a bit sceptical as to why the land lease was reopened for tender when Mr Lai will have to leave in three years anyway," Cheung said.

In the past, structures on public land have been allowed to stay without being reopened for public tender, including tycoon Li Ka-shing's mansion in Deep Water Bay.

Lai pays a monthly land rent of HK$1,100 but the company had offered HK$10,000 a month, Cheung said.

A department spokeswoman said all tendering processes were fair and would go to the highest bidder. The department said the bidder would also have to use the land for agricultural purposes.