Development Secretary Paul Chan to meet villagers over NT new towns

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 June, 2014, 4:49am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 June, 2014, 4:49am

The secretary for development will meet villagers in Fanling and Kwu Tung tonight, two days before the Legislative Council meets again to debate HK$340 million in preliminary funding for two controversial new towns in the northeast New Territories.

Paul Chan Mo-po said he would listen "humbly" to the villagers' demands, although he would not be able to do as they ask and shelve the project.

The HK$120 billion project has become a rallying point for activists, who say thousands of villagers will lose their homes and way of life for a scheme that will largely benefit developers and include many luxury homes.

A vote on the preliminary funding was put on hold on Friday night at a meeting of the Legislative Council Finance Committee - while hundreds of people again protested outside the Legco building in Tamar.

The protest was mainly peaceful but came a week after scenes of mayhem as police used pepper spray on activists who tried to storm the building.

"My colleagues have contacted villagers, farmers and pressure groups … as we hope to have another chance for communication," Chan said after a Legco development panel meeting yesterday. "But on [their demand] for no removal or demolition, I have said many times that I'm very sorry, it's not feasible," he said.

Yu Yik-tin, of Ma Shi Po village, Fanling, said open debate was needed: "I don't think [Chan] wants to solve the problem."

Meanwhile, Yip Wing, a personal assistant to Labour Party lawmaker Dr Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung, was arrested yesterday for allegedly participating in an "unlawful assembly" outside the Legco building on June 13. It is understood he is accused of reversing his electric wheelchair into a set of doors in an attempt to force them open. He is the 27th person arrested over the protest.