Property owners seek injunction to block June 4 memorial museum

Memorial to Tiananmen Square crackdown is in breach of building's deeds: neighbouring owners

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 April, 2014, 5:39pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 April, 2014, 4:02am

Property owners of the Tsim Sha Tsui tower block where a new museum dedicated to the 1989 democracy movement on the mainland is up and running want the courts to bar the use of the unit as a memorial hall.

In a writ, they say the fifth storey of the Foo Hoo Centre, now occupied by the June 4 Museum, is among the floors that cannot be used for memorial or exhibition purposes under the building's deeds.

"The use of any part or parts of the fourth to 17th floors (inclusive) of the building as a memorial hall or an exhibition hall is in breach of the [occupation] permit," the writ says.

The owner of the unit, the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, reiterated yesterday that it had sought legal advice before determining the use of the premises it bought in December for more than HK$9.7 million.

Lawyers had advised that the operation of the museum complied with the model of a commercial building, alliance vice-chairman Mak Hoi-wah said.

The 800 square foot facility hosts the world's first permanent exhibition dedicated to the Tiananmen Square crackdown.

It opened on Saturday, ahead of the 25th anniversary of the June 4 incident, after the owners' corporation sent a lawyer's letter of objection last month to the alliance alleging a possible breach of the building's regulations.

This week, the Incorporated Owners of Foo Hoo Centre filed the writ to the High Court.

The group wants the court to declare the proper use of the building on Austin Avenue under the Deed of Mutual Covenant and the management agreement. It wants an injunction to stop the alliance from using the property as a museum.

The deed is an agreement containing what amounts to a set of local laws for the running of the building.

Mak said the alliance had not received notice of any interim injunction granted by the courts, so it was still operating the museum.

As far as he knew, the 17th floor of the Foo Hoo Centre was also used as a showroom with an exhibition purpose, he said.

The alliance would ask lawyers to deal with the matter, he said.

Earlier, one of the property owners opposed to the facility had said he would privately fund all costs of a lawsuit to block it.

Stanly Chau Kwok-chiu, chairman of the Incorporated Owners, said on April 24 that it would be quicker for him to fund the legal action alone than for the owners' corporation to go through a tender process to hire a law firm.

He denied the suggestion that his action was being funded by another party.

The alliance has said it believes the opposition is a sign of political suppression.