Pier protesters stage hunger strike

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 28 July, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 July, 2007, 12:00am

Activists have stepped up their fight against the demolition of Queen's Pier by launching a hunger strike.

Three members of a group called Local Action began refusing food yesterday afternoon. They said they would only drink water to show their 'determination' and the 'seriousness' of their fight to preserve the 54-year-old pier at Edinburgh Place, Central. The government insists it must be dismantled to make way for a new Central-Wan Chai bypass, and says work could start next week.

Timothy Wong Ka-ying, a researcher at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said the hunger strike would not change the government's decision because the majority of the public did not feel the same attachment to the pier as the activists.

'The mainstream opinion is still that it is hard to strike a balance between redevelopment and preservation,' he said.

The hunger strikers - Chan King-fai, 25; Karden Chan Ka-yuen, 25, and Icarus Wong Ho-yin, 23 - announced their action two days before protesters camped out at the pier are to meet Secretary for Development Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor. They said they were refusing food in the hope the pier, which they see as an icon of Hong Kong history and culture, would be preserved.

'How can the government decide to tear down the Queen's Pier when it was given such a high grading by the Antiquities Advisory Board?' said Chan King-fai. In May the board gave the pier, where visiting royalty used to alight, Grade 1 historic status.

Asked if there would be a confrontation like those during last year's protests against the demolition of the nearby Star Ferry pier, he said activists would not use violence.

Still, he said: 'We are determined to stay at the pier to protect it against the bulldozers. We won't let them carry us [away] so easily.'

A Development Bureau spokesman said dialogue was the best way to resolve differences.