Wang Chau housing saga

Wang Chau housing project set for 79 lots, but village residents vow to fight move

Contentious sites to revert to government in three months from Tuesday

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 03 May, 2017, 12:57am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 03 May, 2017, 1:03am

Residents from three villages in Wang Chau have been given three months to find a new home as the government announced it would resume allocating 79 lots in the area to mark its formal launch of its controversial development project.

The Lands Department said on Tuesday that 79 private lots covering a total area of about 3.5 hectares would be resumed under the Lands Resumption Ordinance and the Roads (Works, Use and Compensation) Ordinance.

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The resumed sites are to accommodate public housing, a school and an integrated social welfare building as well as associated infrastructure works in phase one of the development at Wang Chau in Yuen Long, a spokesman said.

The affected lots are to revert to the government in three months from Tuesday.

This will be the government’s first official move in its plan to build 4,000 public flats on a heavily vegetated green-belt site, which also involved displacing 180 households in three villages –Wing Ning Tsuen, Fung Chi Tsuen and Yeung Uk San Tsuen in Wang Chau.

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.

A spokesman on Tuesday said that apart from the government’s offer of ex-gratia land compensation to the affected land owners, the affected households, where eligible, would be offered accommodation in public rental housing, interim housing or applicable ex-gratia allowances.

“The government will continue to closely liaise with the affected land owners and occupiers to explain the clearance compensation and rehousing arrangements and to assess their eligibility,” the spokesman said.

The department’s “sudden” move appeared to upset villagers.

Lawmaker Eddie Chu Hoi-dick, who raised the Wang Chau issue last summer during his campaign for a seat in the Legislative Council, said on his Facebook page a large number of officers from the Lands Department came with police to the villages at about 5.20pm Tuesday to post notice of the move.

We will fight, even if blood must be shed
Chan Oi-kam, village head

He said the officers did not respond to the villagers’ question as to why they could post the resumption notice prior to gazetting the decision.

The department said the posting of notices was a necessary procedure in respect of land resumptions duly authorised by the Chief Executive in Council.

In a video clip posted by Chu, a male villager was shown being taken into a police van as another villager tried to stop the officers.

A police spokesman said a 33-year-old man had been arrested for possession of an offensive weapon after he waved a metallic rod in an attempt to stop the officers from posting the notice at Fung Chi Tsuen. He was later released on bail.

Meanwhile, another man was said to have snatched notices from the officers at Wing Ning Tsuen and fled. Police were looking for him for obstructing a public officer in the execution of duty. The cases were being handled by Yuen Long district crime squad.

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Wing Ning Tsuen village head Chan Oi-kam said he was angry about the timing of the department’s visit. He originally understood the government would come later this week.

“The government has never come talk to us formally,” he claimed. “We will fight, even if blood must be shed.”

Chan said villagers would fight for an in-situ relocation, adding that they would stay and safeguard their homeland from Wednesday.