Artificial Lam Tsuen wishing tree wins approval

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 September, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 25 September, 2009, 12:00am

The Buildings Department has approved installation of a fibreglass wishing tree to replace a Chinese banyan that collapsed in the New Territories village of Lam Tsuen in 2005, injuring two people.

The artificial tree will be brought from Guangzhou by the end of the year. It is about seven metres high, 2.5 metres higher than a plastic tree used this Lunar New Year. The approval was given last month but the decision was only revealed yesterday.

As a part of Lunar New Year festivities, people used to throw offerings, messages or wishes attached to oranges into the Chinese banyan in Lam Tsuen, Tai Po, but the practice was stopped after the accident, in which an overburdened branch fell.

Tai Po district councillor Chan Cho-leung, who is responsible for the project, said: 'You won't be able to distinguish it from a real tree. We hope that it will be a new year gift to visitors coming at the Lunar New Year.'

The cost of buying and setting up the new wishing tree was about HK$300,000. The council also obtained a real, 11-metre-high banyan from Guangdong last year, as part of a tourism-revival plan involving building a 'wishing square'.

The branch that snapped off the old tree in 2005 broke the hip of Choi Kam-yin, then 65, who died this year, and also hit a four-year-old boy.

Choi had been unable to walk since. His family put him in a home for the elderly where 24-hour care service was available.

He was transferred to a nursing home in April this year, and died a week later.

Choi's son, Choi Wing-cheung, on hearing of the plan for the new artificial tree, expressed frustration. 'Attention has always been on the wishing tree, either a fake or real tree, after the accident,' he said. 'But little attention has been paid to my father, who was a human being. He was a victim who had been waiting for compensation ... The government hasn't even expressed its condolences to my family ... now that my father has gone for good.'

Choi said they were still negotiating for compensation from the government. 'The government still has not given my family a reply about this accident and our demand for compensation,' he said. 'We have not received a penny from the government all these years.'