Hong Kong 'hands PLA radar station on territory's highest mountain in secret deal'
Radar station on Tai Mo Shan is found to be fenced off from the public without the government listing it among local military sites
Cheung Chi-fai and Olga Wong
A radar station that is sitting on public land at the top of Tai Mo Shan has been granted secretly to the People's Liberation Army, according to a lawmaker who is threatening to take the government to court for keeping the public in the dark.
Dr Kenneth Chan Ka-lok, of the Civic Party, said he would not rule out seeking a judicial review over the government's non-disclosure of the construction and use of the radar station by the army's Hong Kong garrison, when there was a proper channel and mechanism to announce it.
Chan urged officials to release more details about the allocation of the estimated 9,300 square metre site, which was not listed among the 19 designated military sites and facilities in the city.
The radar, along with a building and a basketball court, is located near the Observatory's weather radar and the Civil Aviation Department's radar on the 957-metre mountain, Hong Kong's tallest peak.
All three facilities lie behind fences, with public access restricted. Garrison officers have been spotted inside the station.
Chan said that under the Garrison Law, Hong Kong officials and the PLA were obliged to tell the public about the existence of such a site.
"They should follow the Garrison Law provisions to designate the place as a military site with restricted public access," he said.
"But now the public has no knowledge about this and we cannot find anything about it from documents filed to the legislature, either."
Chan was referring to section 12 of the law, which states the "Hong Kong garrison shall delimit military restricted zones in conjunction with the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region".
It also says "the locations and boundaries of the military restricted zones shall be declared by the government".
A government spokesman was tight-lipped about the claim, saying only that the government had a role to play in facilitating the army's defence duties.
He used the word "secret" in declining to reveal further information about the station, such as the type of land grant, or whether other undisclosed military sites existed elsewhere in the city.
"The Garrison Law provides that the government of the HKSAR shall support the Hong Kong garrison in its performance of defence functions," the spokesman said. "It is inappropriate to disclose the details of any defence operations."
The Development Bureau declined to comment on the format in which the local garrison had been given the site, such as whether it was on a short-term tenancy or a private treaty grant.
Aerial photographs covering the hilltop areas showed the structures were not in existence in 2009, but began to take shape in 2010. That indicated the land grant might have been allowed by 2009 at the latest.
Roy Tam Hoi-pong, president of environmental group Green Sense, said after visiting the site yesterday that having the three radars - two civil and one military - share a small confined area was "sensitive".