A JOINT Government-United Nations proposal for a drug detoxification clinic to be set up for Vietnamese refugees at Lau Fau Shan has drawn tough opposition from residents of the close-knit fishing community. A meeting yesterday of Security Branch officials, residents and the Yuen Long District Board attempted to solve the problem but little headway was made. The clinic, which would be operated by the St Stephen's Society - the new managers of the Pillar Point refugee camp at Tuen Mun - would be housed in an old army barracks complex if the proposal was accepted. Tang Hop-wan, the elected district board member for Ha Tsuen, Yuen Long, said: 'It is definitely not a good idea. Our main worry is that there is the primary school just opposite the camp. Parents and children will be scared. 'We don't want them coming out, stealing our things. They are not normal people, they will steal and rob to get drugs. 'People say when they have treatment, the drug addicts cry and scream - we don't want to hear this in our village. We do not want them scaring the villagers.' The clinic's future hinges on receiving approval from the district board, whose members are generally opposed to having the clinic in the neighbourhood. Residents have expressed concern that housing prices would plummet and local people would be exposed to potential dangers if the centre was established. However, representatives of the board discussed existing St Stephen's drug detoxification and rehabilitation programmes yesterday in an attempt to better understand how such schemes operated. About 700 of the 1,700 Vietnamese refugees in Hong Kong are drug addicts and must be detoxified and rehabilitated before then can be resettled. The abandoned Pak Nei Training Centre could hold up to 100 refugees and about 30 staff, if approval is given. The proposal states that during the time the refugees were in the centre, they would either be banned from leaving or would be under 'close supervision'. It is proposed that the programme run for two years. Robert Chan Ming-kui, Yuen Long District Officer, said: 'There is a suitable site and the camp is readily available but I do appreciate the concerns of the local people, it's only a natural response. 'When the Vietnamese are mentioned people are sensitive especially since they are drug addicts, it does raise strong concern among the villagers living nearby.' However, for many of the refugees, their chances of resettlement would remain slim even after completing detoxification and rehabilitation. Major resettlement countries often require that people be free of drug habits for five years before they would be eligible for admission. A United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesman said the programme could be up and running within a matter of days once approval was gained. 'Of course, there is still the need to counsel addicts and explain to them the benefits of participating in detox,' the spokesman said. 'Even if these people can't be resettled, it would be doing everyone a favour by getting rid of their drug problems,' the spokesman said. 'This is not a programme that will cost the Hong Kong taxpayer money. It would be funded by St Stephen's and the staff would be from St Stephen's. We just need to secure a site and this site we have proposed is not being used at the moment.' The St Stephen's Society is a voluntary agency with a history of successful drug rehabilitation programmes in Kowloon City and the Hang Fook Camp in Cheung Sha Wan. The Secretary for Economic Services, Gordon Siu Kwing-chue, has agreed to appear before the Legislative Council economic services panel on January 3 to update members on the progress of the investigation into the fatal crash of a Hercules at Kai Tak airport in September. The Hercules, which had been chartered by the Government to forcibly repatriate Vietnamese boat people many times, crashed on take-off just hours after returning from a Vietnamese repatriation flight to Hanoi. Six crewmen were killed. Legislator Christine Loh Kung-wai has called on Mr Siu to provide the full report on the crash prior to the January 3 panel meeting.