Council meeting ends in chaos over government plan to build flats on greenbelt site
Banner-waving residents fear proposal will destroy their community
A Sham Shui Po district council meeting was forced to end in chaos today after protests and arguments over the government’s plan to build residential flats on a greenbelt site.
This is the second district council meeting that has come to an abrupt halt in a week, following an aborted Tuen Mun meeting last Friday after 18 councilors walked out to protest against the government’s proposal to expand a landfill in the district.
Almost 100 local residents gathered in the council meeting room today, holding banners and chanting slogans to protest the government plan to build 980 private flats on a 2.04-hectare site to the north of Yin Ping Road on Beacon Hill. They fear that the development would destroy the greenery in the area, which is also home to many wild animals.
Even before the meeting officially started, the Sham Shui Po district council chairman Jimmy Kwok Chun-wah had to announce two breaks. The first came after environmental group Green Sense insisted on standing behind councillors during the meeting holding a long banner, which covered the logo of the council.
When Green Sense finally gave in and stepped aside after an hour-long negotiation with much shouting, a councillor’s proposal to have a motion on delaying the discussion over the development plan was rejected by Kwok. This led to another heated dispute between the pro-establishment and pro-democratic councillors over their political stances. Kwok was forced to call a second break.
He eventually decided to stop the meeting when councillors’ shouting at one another threw the meeting into chaos.
“I really regret that we’ve lost a chance to question the government representatives [who were at the meeting] about the plan,” said Kwok. “The green group has caused a great impact on the meeting. It’ll encourage the culture of violence.”
But Green Sense president Roy Tam Hoi-pong said the group just wanted to “stand in silence” during the meeting behind the councillors and protest peacefully.
Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihood councillor Frederick Fung Kin-kee said Kwok should have discussed the proposed motion instead of calling a halt of the meeting.
A group of subdivided unit dwellers at the meeting were also disappointed because the meeting was supposed to also discuss building temporary flats for the poor.