A row has broken out between self-proclaimed descendants of sea goddess Tin Hau and managers of a temple worshipping Taoist deity Wong Tai Sin. Scuffles and heated arguments between Wong Tai Sin Temple managers and the Lam clan over the management of the clan's ancient tomb near the temple drew crowds of spectators and led to police intervention yesterday. The clan accused Sik Sik Yuen, the charity that runs the temple and the tomb, of desecrating their ancestors' resting place by building a toilet at the back of the tomb, erecting a flat-screen television and storing building material in the compound. Clan leaders claimed that their forebears were siblings of Tin Hau, whom the fishing community revere as the guardian of the oceans. They also said a clan leader had fought for the preservation of Wong Tai Sin Temple in the 1950s when plans were put forward by the government to demolish the temple to make way for development of East Kowloon. They said the charity was repaying their good deeds with what they claimed was insulting treatment to their ancestors. About 40 members of the Lam clan, wearing yellow hats embroidered with their surname, were accompanied by the media on a trip to the tomb yesterday. Clan members drove away two Sik Sik Yuen employees and then began clearing away pipes, railings and metal ladders stowed in a corner of the tomb, which has two graves. Police were called in after scuffles broke out between staff, who tried to stop the materials being removed, and clan members. The tomb, next to the temple's front gate, is on government land. The Chinese Temples Committee, which operates under the Home Affairs Bureau, turned over management of the temple and the tomb to the Sik Sik Yuen in 1956. The public cannot enter the tomb. Professor Lam Tai-pong, spokesman for the clan and associate dean of clinical affairs at the University of Hong Kong's Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, said the charity began to desecrate the tomb 20 years ago. 'A disgusting stench emanates from it whenever we pay respects to our ancestors,' he said. 'Two metal plaques introducing our clan's history were removed from the front gate last year by them. They also demolished parts of the front metal gate and filled them up with bricks. All these activities severely affect the fung shui of our graveyard.' Lam said they were barred from entry to the grave through the front gate two weeks ago. 'They asked us to enter through the back gate and show our identity cards to prove that we are from the Lam family. Why do we need to pay respects to our forebears in such a humiliating way? ... They are trying to force us out and take over the land for their own use.' Brandishing genealogy records and pictures of ancestors, Lam Kwok-keung, father of Lam Tai-pong, said their clan's history formed an important part of East Kowloon's development. Extensive studies have been done on the history of the clan, which migrated to Kowloon from Fujian province 800 years ago and first settled where Wong Tai Sin and San Po Kong are today. Cheung Sui-wai, assistant professor of history at Chinese University who published a paper on the clan's history eight years ago, said the clan contributed to Hong Kong by building the Tin Hau Temple in Sai Kung and chronicling East Kowloon history in their genealogical records. The clan has asked Sik Sik Yuen to remove all the material stored in the tomb within two weeks. The Wong Dai Sin District Council has submitted a request to the Antiquities Advisory Board for an assessment of the tomb for heritage status.