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Wang Chau housing saga

Pressure builds in Wang Chau homes row as DAB leader calls for timetable for 12,700 flats

Starry Lee Wai-king calls on government to come up with timetable, as villagers protest and the push continues for Legco investigation

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 25 September, 2016, 8:07pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 25 September, 2016, 8:07pm

Planning officials have come under greater pressure to develop a brownfield site occupied by rural strongmen in Yuen Long.

Starry Lee Wai-king, head of the city’s biggest pro-establishment party, on Sunday called on the government to draw up a timetable for the Wang Chau ­public housing project.

Her comments came as villagers protested against the project and pan-democrat lawmakers continued to push for a formal ­investigation in the Legislative Council next month.

Lee, chairwoman of the Beijing-loyalist Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, was speaking days after Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying took ultimate responsibility for the partial suspension of the project.

He denied bowing to pressure, but admitted the bulk of the plan – 12,700 flats on a brownfield site – was deferred following strong ­opposition from rural leaders with vested interests.

The building of 4,300 flats was shifted to a green belt that will see three villages destroyed.

Lee told TVB’s On The Record officials must reflect on their ­handling of the project.

“In this controversy, people would easily question whether the government mistreated the good while being afraid of the ­bullies,” Lee said.

“I think officials must learn the lesson ... as their scope of consultation was not wide enough, and failed to let the [villagers] affected by the plan express their view at an early stage.”

On Wednesday, Leung and his ministers insisted the government’s ultimate goal was to build 12,700 flats on the brownfield site, but they failed to say by when.

“The government must give the timetable as they have repeatedly said they would not give up on the goal,” Lee said.

Wing Ning Tsuen villagers, who face eviction from their homes, protested by putting up placards on about 30 cars and touring the area.

Chan Oi-kam, the village chief, said: “We will not move out from our villages or let people ­demolish our homes, because no one asked for our opinion ... We were told that 17,000 units would be built in Wang Chau, not just [4,300] in our villages.”

Newly elected lawmaker Edward Yiu Chung-yim said he was confident a Legco probe would go ahead “because some pro-establishment lawmakers said they would support us”.