Offerings ban on Tai Po Wishing Tree to stay

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 February, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 February, 2005, 12:00am

Visitors may never get another chance to throw wishes tied with oranges onto the Wishing Tree in Tai Po because an indefinite ban has been imposed to protect the banyan from further damage.

A temporary ban was due to end yesterday, but a spokeswoman for the Home Affairs Department said throwing offering placards and oranges would be prohibited until further notice.

'The ban has been extended, and it is not known when it will be lifted. The most important thing is to let the Wishing Tree recover,' she said.

'We appeal to members of the public not to throw things onto the tree, and we are still studying other alternatives to keep the custom.'

Home Affairs Department director Pamela Tan Kam Mei-wah earlier said the government was considering placing a wooden frame at the tourist spot in Lam Tsuen for worshippers to hang wishes on, instead of throwing oranges and offerings onto the Wishing Tree.

But no decision has been made so far, as the department is still studying the proposal.

The temporary ban was first imposed on Monday last week, two days after a branch of the banyan, thought to be up to 80 years old, fell and injured two people during the Lunar New Year holiday.

The department said all unhealthy branches were removed, and wounds on the tree had been treated to avoid infection and deter pests.

Further action will be taken to loosen soil, allowing water and nutrition to reach the roots, as the area around the Wishing Tree is covered with cement and bricks.

Health checks will be conducted on the tree today by the head of the geography department at Hong Kong University, Jim Chi-yung, and his students, tree experts from Kadoorie Farm, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, and the Leisure and Cultural Services Department.