Education chiefs hope to build a 24-classroom school for children with special needs on a prime Kowloon Tong site being sought by Baptist University for Hong Kong's first Chinese medicine teaching hospital.
"It is quite a suitable piece of land" for a special-needs school, Education Bureau principal assistant secretary Wallace Lau Ka-ki told the Town Planning Board yesterday.
He was speaking on the second day of a six-day board meeting that is discussing a government application to rezone the site of the university's former Lee Wai Lee campus for the building of private luxury homes.
The government withdrew the site from a land-sale programme last month after the rezoning plan met opposition.
It has since suggested the site could be used for a special-needs school.
Lau said yesterday his bureau saw the site as having potential for special-needs children and hoped to build a 24-classroom school there.
His comments come as a blow to Baptist University, which also opposes rezoning the site - because it wants to build its planned Chinese medicine teaching hospital there.
Earlier the board heard from the head of the university's knowledge transfer office, Alfred Tan, who spoke against the rezoning proposal and said he hoped the board would "decide together whether to go for the miserly pieces of silver, or to save the sacred land for education".
The board also heard from a Mr Law, who said he had been going to the university's Chinese medicine clinic since he was diagnosed with cancer seven years ago and had chosen not to undergo chemotherapy.
"I'm lucky to still be sitting here and I've got [the professors and the students] to thank for it. Don't look down on Chinese medicine," he said.
"With this piece of land there's an opportunity here - to fulfil the needs of Chinese medicine students, but also to boost Hong Kong's profile in the field of medicine and research."
Law questioned why the government had done so little to support the development of Chinese medicine.
"It's funny that the government won't build a Chinese medicine hospital, considering that both education and medical services are among the six pillar industries identified by the government itself," he said.
Daniel Tse, the university's president for more than 30 years until 2011, said the institution's ability to teach would be hurt if it was prevented from using the Kowloon Tong site. Finding another piece of land further away from the campus for the Chinese medicine hospital would be a waste of resources, he said.