Another sensitive land sale emerges
As anger simmers over a Sai Wan project, 42 plots are snapped up at Lai Chi Chong
Bit by bit, Hong Kong's most loved countryside has quietly been falling into the hands of private companies snapping up sensitive ecological sites in bulk - this time at Lai Chi Chong.
Since May, a company controlled by a Heung Yee Kuk councillor has bought at least 42 plots at Lai Chi Chong adjacent to Sai Kung West Country Park, near a site of special scientific interest, for HK$6.5 million.
With a combined size of nearly 100,000 square feet, the plots of once-agricultural land are scattered mostly on the western bank of a stream that cuts across a village, an area popular among hikers for the unique geographical features of the coastal area, part of the Hong Kong Geopark.
It remains unclear what plans the company - Maxland (Asia) - has for its newly acquired properties and whether it is aiming to buy up more sites from local villagers.
Land registry information shows the land deals were sealed on April 30 and full payment has yet to be made by the company, which has five directors, including Leung Wo-ping, a councillor of the kuk, which represents the interests of indigenous inhabitants of the New Territories, and Ching Kwong-ning, a director of the Kowloon Funeral Parlour.
Leung, whose bid for a functional constituency seat was rejected by the government two years ago because he failed to renounce his British citizenship in time, could not be contacted for comment yesterday.
Lai Chi Chong is among about 20 sites that are close to or encompassed by the Sai Kung country parks, but all are outside the boundary of the protected areas.
The sites are not covered by any statutory zoning requiring planning permission for development.
Most of them are on old land leases that state the sites should be for agricultural use unless the Lands Department has given approval for an alternative use.
2010/7/26，SCMP C1，By Cheung Chi-fai