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Wang Chau housing saga

Hong Kong villagers go on bended knee to protest against government housing plan

About 60 villagers and activists from Wang Chau in Yuen Long call on chief executive-elect Carrie Lam to meet them and listen to their views

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 April, 2017, 7:53pm
UPDATED : Monday, 17 April, 2017, 9:41pm

More than 60 villagers and activists from Yuen Long’s Wang Chau area marched – some on their knees – from Chater Garden in Central to the office of the chief executive-elect on Monday to protest against what they consider to be an “unjust” housing development plan that will see at least 180 households displaced.

What would have normally been a 10-minute walk took more than an hour as three villagers leading the procession got down on their knees and raised their arms every three steps of the way in a plea to the city’s new leader, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, to meet them and listen to their woes.

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To the slow beat of a drum, the villagers, who included children and elderly people from three non-indigenous villages – Wing Ning Tsuen, Fung Chi Tsuen and Yeung Uk San Tsuen – marched silently to the lobby of Champion Tower. An employee from Lam’s office received their petition ­letter.

“I hope [the new administration]won’t be so cold-blooded,”said Chan Oi-kam, who is village head of Wing Ning Tsuen. “It is unfair and unjust. They have never even consulted us.”

Instead of placards, many brandished fresh fruit and vegetables from their farms. Others carried banners sprawled with words such as: “For our children, save our green belt.”

“We don’t want money, all we want is to keep our homes,” Fung Chi Tsuen villager Ng Ching-han said.

“This is land we bought with our hard-earned money and houses we built with our own hands and lived in for decades.”

The Legislative Council’s Finance Committee last month approved a controversial HK$12.4 billion funding package for more than 9,000 public works projects, including the controversial Wang Chau project.

The plan drew flak after the government admitted it approved the construction of 4,000 public housing flats on a green-belt site that houses the three villages, instead of also developing a larger site said to be used by powerful rural figures that could yield 13,000 more flats.