Sunday, March 21, 2010

Disappearing Hong Kong

On January 16th of this year, Hong Kong's Legislative Council approved the funding applications of the controversial Hong Kong section of the planned Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link. This despite high profile public protests against it because of how super expensive the HK$67 billion line is and its construction requiring the forced destruction of farming village of more than 150 households and the relocation of its community.

Tsoi Yuen (AKA Choi Yuen) village is one of many agricultural villages established by mainland immigrants to Hong Kong in the 1950s and 1960s. If things go as planned, it will cease to exist before the end of this year.

Some months back, local activist Chu Hoi-dick took a group of people, including two friends and myself, on a tour through the Tsoi Yuen area to give us some idea of what is due to go and, also tellingly, what will not under the government's plan. The following are some photos taken from that day of yet another section of disappearing Hong Kong -- disappearing not from neglect but, rather, because the powers-that-be want it to be so:-

Unlike in many other parts of Hong Kong,
many of the area's residents live in
not high rise apartments
, and amidst much greenery

Various other living things (besides humans)
have their habitat in the area too

Threatened farmland in the foreground,
unthreatened industrial space along with
green hills
in the background

A farmer at work in the fields,
tending to one of his banana plants

View of the PLA's Shek Kong barracks
close to Tsoi Yuen village
that will be spared under the plan

Government notices (in English and Chinese)
pertaining to the proposed rail link

erected in the affected area

Among the gripes of those against the proposed rail link
is how it spares polluted "storage areas" like this

but not farm land and farmers' homes

A place so remote and rural that
the postman drops off the post at these boxes
rather actual residences

*September 5th, 2016 update: Tsoi Yuen village is no more; but this morning came news that (Eddie) Chu Hoi-dick, my guide around Tsoi Yuen the day that I visited the area, has secured 84,121 votes in yesterday's elections to win a seat in the Legislative Council by a record landslide! :)


Gweipo said...

you have to wonder about the people making decisions on the these matters.
We're not Washington and I've never met a professional HK lobbyist (yet) but we're worse off in some ways ...

YTSL said...

Hi gweipo --

One increasingly gets the feeling that in matters such as these, the Hong Kong government is more into looking out to save its own neck (from the powerful Mainland government) and less into looking after the needs and at the concerns of regular Hong Kong denizens. So sad...

EG CameraGirl said...

I recently saw a documentary on how the Chinese government on the mainland is taking land from ordinary people (leaving them with nothing) and building money-making ventures on said property.

YTSL said...

Hi "Your EG Tour Guide" --

I like to think that the Hong Kong government doesn't approach the level of the mainland government. OTOH, in their rush to make the mainland government and property tycoons happy... :S

Maya said...

A very informative post that shows the price we pay in the name of progress. I wonder the reasoning behind the sparing of the polluted storage areas and the impact that those areas have on the local environment.

YTSL said...

Hi Maya --

Re the sparing of the polluted areas: the suggestion made by activists is that they are owned by people with powerful backers/lobbies -- unlike the farming villagers of Tsoi Yuen. :S

Horsoon said...

It is indeed a shame to let go such a beautiful place!

YTSL said...

Hi Horsoon --

Destruction for progress... let's hope it proves to be worth it.