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Beauty flowers again at Wong Chuk Yeung beyond developer’s barriers, CCTV cameras and threats

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“It is going to be the dead over here and the living over there,” says James Wong

Nature is reclaiming the Wong Chuk Yeung plateau after a developer’s mechanical diggers trashed the land. The former farmland is looking quite beautiful in the autumn sun once you get beyond the ugly developer-erected fences, CCTV cameras and threatening notices. We visited with James Wong, former environment officer with Friends of Sai Kung, and campaigners Carol Ho and Guy Shirra.

“It is going to be the dead over here and the living over there,” James said, waving his arms around.  A columbarium will be built by the developer near the road, he believes, plus a complex of houses on the cleared area.  Why has development not started yet? James said a member of the Kadoorie family owns the sole newish house in the area and is taking a dim view of the proposed development. The narrow road that winds up to Wong Chuk Yeung past the big aerial needs to be widened in places first.

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Carol Ho checks out the former farmland in front of the village, first built in 1660

Wong Chuk Yeung cries out for heritage conservation. It was first settled by the Lees in 1660. They grew rice, sugar cane and beancurd sticks on the plateau until iron mining at Ma On Shan sucked away the water table. When we pointed out to ex-Sai Kung District Officer Maureen Siu what was happening to the historic village, she said she was concerned, would make a private visit, but there was nothing she could do officially.

So what is going on officially?  We have the Antiquities Advisory Board and the Built Heritage Conservation Fund and the Advisory Committee on Built Heritage Conservation. Andrew Lam Siu-lo heads the board and Lau Chi-pang the fund. There is no sign anyone is doing anything to save Wong Chuk Yeung, home now to just a colony of bats.

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Nature is reclaiming the once-trashed land — but for how long?

BUZZ visited the plateau a couple of years ago with Lands Department officials and Guy. The Lands staff said the developer was correct in claiming it was private land zoned “V”. His mechanical diggers, however, had knocked down trees and torn up shrubs on some government land, they said. We asked if action would be taken and who was responsible.  Prosecution over the illegal tree-felling was up to AFCD.  So what has happened in the interim?  Zero, it appears.

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