Legco gives green light to demolition of Queen's Pier
The city's government yesterday won legislators' support for knocking down Queen's Pier when the Legislative Council's finance committee approved a HK$50 million budget for its demolition, by 28 votes to 18, with one abstention.
The money will allow the government's contractors to dismantle the pier and store the pieces for reconstruction on a site still to be determined in a public consultation.
Before the vote, officials refused to disclose when the contractors would begin dismantling the pier, on the grounds that they still had to map out the demolition and storage plan.
Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands Michael Suen Ming-yeung promised legislators, after repeated demands from pan-democrats, to inform the relevant Legco panels and the Central and Western District Council of the plan before the bulldozers moved in.
'The government has been working with various organisations on how to preserve the pier since early this year,' Mr Suen said. 'We organised many forums to listen to the people's views. The majority of people we have consulted agree with our conservation plan.'
Mr Suen's initial reluctance to inform Legco on the demolition plan prompted Civic Party legislator Audrey Eu Yuet-mee to call him 'sneaky'.
The Frontier legislator Emily Lau Wai-hing, the committee's chairwoman said: 'He is an eel, [because] it is impossible to catch.'
Mr Suen assured legislators that the government would take good care of the pier's dismantled pieces, which would be housed in temporary storage either in Kai Tak or Tseung Kwan O.
The government's antiquities advisers would not be informed about the demolition plan because they did not have a role on the matter, according to the Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor.
The Antiquities Advisory Board awarded the pier Grade I historic status on May 8, but Secretary for Home Affairs Patrick Ho Chi-ping decided the pier did not possess the qualities required for being declared a monument. Last month he told legislators that the Antiquities and Monuments Office, a statutory body, had advised him that the pier's 'historical value was not of such significance to qualify it as a monument'.
The pier, landing place of British governors and royalty, has been the subject of intense controversy after the demolition of its neighbour, the former Star Ferry pier, on December 16. The pier will be demolished to make way for a new stretch of expressway.
A group of conservationists has been camping at the pier for nearly two months, in protest at its proposed demolition.