Tiananmen Square crackdown

Property owner says he would pick up total cost of lawsuit to block June 4 Memorial Museum

Businessman 'with no political affiliation' hopes lone action will speed up process against display

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 24 April, 2014, 6:09pm
UPDATED : Friday, 25 April, 2014, 3:44am

One of the property owners opposed to the setting up of the city's first June 4 Memorial Museum in a Tsim Sha Tsui commercial building said yesterday he would privately fund all costs of a lawsuit to block the museum.

Stanly Chau Kwok-chiu, chairman of the Incorporated Owners of Foo Hoo Centre, said he would sue the museum on behalf of the block's owners' corporation, after he sought legal advice and found that museum use could be a violation of the building's deeds.

"As a chairman and an owner of a property in this block for more than 10 years, I just want to get this matter over with as soon as possible," he said, adding that it would be quicker for him to fund the legal action alone as it would take a lot more time for the committee to go through a tender process for a law firm.

Chau, who owns a property on the block's first floor, denied the suggestion that his action was being funded by another party.

"I am just a normal businessman who does not have any political background," he said.

Chau said that to comply with legal requirements, the committee had since 2011 been improving the building's stairs and lifts. But opening a museum in the commercial building would increase footfall and require additional safety measures, he said.

Despite the move, the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements is set to open the museum to the public tomorrow - weeks before the 25th anniversary of the June 4 Tiananmen Square crackdown.

The alliance bought the 800 sq ft space in the Foo Hoo Centre for more than HK$9.7 million in December, but received a lawyer's letter from the corporation last month warning against the opening of a museum in a commercial centre.

It said the space should be used only for office purposes under the deeds.

The alliance's chairman, lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan, said Chau's action was a clear sign of political suppression.

"Wouldn't it be too generous for one owner to pay so much to take legal action … on behalf of other owners?" he asked.

Earlier this month, a member of the owners' corporation accepted members were uncomfortable with being associated with the June 4 crackdown, given its political sensitivity.