A controversial plan for a permanent SAR office in Beijing has passed the first hurdle. The public works subcommittee yesterday agreed to funding of $87.3 million after officials dropped their demand for a quadrangle-style building in their request for the office. The funding will go towards the purchase of a building, expected to cost $58 million, fitting it out, which is budgeted to cost $20 million, and furniture costing an estimated $2.4 million. Members had earlier questioned why officials had insisted on buying a quadrangular-style building. Some said the office should justify its request with achievements on matters such as assistance to SAR residents detained on the mainland. The Deputy Director of the Beijing Office, Tam Wing-pong, said yesterday that standalone quadrangular-style premises near the centre of Beijing were still preferred, although he admitted present property prices were high. The plan will be tabled for approval at the Finance Committee this month.