Ex-US leader adds voice to those urging release of HK$2b for Sichuan Former United States president Jimmy Carter has written to Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen in a bid to push the Hong Kong government into releasing the HK$2 billion it promised for reconstruction in Sichuan after the earthquake which ravaged the province in May. Nothing has happened since the Legislative Council approved an injection of HK$2 billion into the Trust Fund in Support of Reconstruction in the Sichuan Earthquake Stricken Areas in mid-July. That has left many charities and non-governmental organisations in the dark about how to apply for grants. Reconstruction plans are on hold. The Sunday Morning Post obtained a copy of Mr Carter's letter, dated July 25, in which he stressed the urgency of reconstruction work in Sichuan. 'Although media coverage of the earthquake and its impact will start to wane, I know that the work to rebuild has only just begun. Rebuilding following a natural disaster takes time,' wrote Mr Carter, who is now a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, a non-governmental organisation specialising in rebuilding homes and communities in places hit by natural disasters. Mr Carter also said he may visit Sichuan. 'In November 2009 we will visit Habitat for Humanity programmes in the Mekong region. If our schedule permits, we would like to travel to Sichuan to lend our support to Habitat's work there,' he said. Darwin Chen, chairman of Habitat for Humanity of China, said the charity had been collecting donations for Sichuan projects, 'but we hope to find out when [the trust fund] will be ready [for applications]'. 'It should not be delayed any further. It has been four months since the earthquake,' he said. Other charities and non-governmental organisations said no one knew what was happening with the fund. Oxfam Hong Kong communication officer Keith Wong Tse-wai said: 'Winter is coming. Victims in the quake zone urgently need cotton blankets, beds and temporary houses.' Oxfam Hong Kong had earmarked HK$15 million for relief work in Sichuan, Mr Wong said. Reconstruction projects would focus on restoring livelihoods, rebuilding infrastructure and dealing with mud and rock flows caused by recent rains. 'We haven't received any government invitation to submit proposals for the trust fund so far. And we don't know when we can submit applications,' Mr Wong said. 'Meanwhile, since we don't know any details and regulations about the trust fund, we can't start drafting any proposal to apply for funding.' Zeta Chan, a project officer in subsidy services at Sower's Action, said the charity had planned with the Institute of Engineers to build 20 schools in Sichuan, and cash from the government trust fund would be of great assistance. She revealed that Sowers Action had written a proposal for funding but had yet to receive any notification about whether the government would accept their proposal. 'We haven't been able to get any detailed information [on how the fund will work].' she said. Some charities have decided not to wait any longer for the government. Enkas Chau Ping-hay, head of international and relief services at Hong Kong Red Cross, said the group had raised HK$1.2 billion from Hongkongers for the post-quake reconstruction. A spokeswoman for Worldvision Hong Kong said the group had no plans to apply for funding from the government trust fund and would use public donations of HK$294 million for rehabilitation works in Sichuan, Gansu and Shaanxi . Apart from the HK$2 billion approved by Legco, the trust fund has also attracted more than HK$7 million in public donations. A spokesman for the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau said the estimated cost of quake reconstruction would be more than 1 trillion yuan and the government was discussing various aspects of Hong Kong's support with the Sichuan provincial government. A detailed plan would be ready as soon as possible, he said.