Temples refuse to move for housing

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 January, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 January, 2006, 12:00am

A government plan to relocate three temples in Sau Mau Ping to make way for a new public housing development has run into opposition from temple operators.

Under the plan, the Buddhist and Taoist temples, built in 1964 without government approval, would make way for a road to meet expected traffic demands from the housing project, which will have 50,000 residents.

The Tai Sing Temple, Temple of Guan Yin and the Shing Wong Temple are housed together at a single complex on a hillside between Anderson and Sau Mau Ping roads. The government wants it relocated to a nearby site, but the exact location has not been fixed.

'The Buddha designated the site for us and this is the only place we can be. There are also other fung shui matters involved,' said Lam Cho-sat, chairman of the group that operates the Tai Sing Temple, the most famous of the three temples. 'There are so many free spaces here, why can't the road take a detour?'

Mr Lam urged the government to build a flyover above the temples if it insisted on the present route.

The temples - covering 900 square metres - were built when squatters appeared in the area.

The temple groups have sought help from the Kwun Tong District Council but the council's position is not clear.

Council chairman Chan Chung-bun said there was a need to relocate the temples on the ground of public safety because they were unauthorised structures.

He also believes the housing plan should go ahead because of the demand. Planning for the project was suspended for three years, but has been resumed.

Temple representatives said they support redevelopment, but thought they would play a role.

The temples are famous for annual rituals that include blessed individuals climbing blades, washing their faces with hot oil and walking on fire with bare feet.