The scale of a controversial Yuen Long housing project may be reduced further, as rural leaders object to the project hurting the area’s feng shui – a Chinese philosophical system relating to harmony with the environment. The new buildings will be close to hillside graves.
Zachary Wong Wai-yin, a Democratic Party district councillor, said on Thursday he understood that informal meetings with rural leaders over the project in Wang Chau have continued, and there have been talks in the last fortnight over the number of public housing buildings proposed.
“The rural people said that, owing to feng shui, you cannot build ten buildings – you have to reduce it by one,” he said, adding that the rural leaders also requested that a driveway into the housing project should be moved up closer to the hill, for the convenience of those arriving at graves by car to clean them.
Previously, the government admitted they conducted three informal meetings with rural leaders in 2013 and 2014. The project, which originally included plans to build 17,000 public housing units, was switched to a primary phase of 4,000 units after rural leaders mounted strong opposition. Phases two and three of 13,000 units will be postponed, leading to concerns that the government caved to pressure from powerful rural groups.
The Housing Department, in response to enquiries by Apple Daily, said there were no informal meetings with local community leaders recently over the first phase of the Wang Chau development. It added that the phase was still in the stage of conceptual design, that the design may change during land flattening work, and that it will be submitted to the Housing Authority for approval.
Citing sources, Apple Daily reported that there were indeed some rural leaders who proposed only constructing nine buildings for feng shui reasons.
Wong complained that the government continued to hold informal talks with rural leaders, while the district council had not been invited to discuss the project since it was approved in 2014.
Lawmaker-elect Eddie Chu Hoi-dick told the newspaper that it was not ideal that rural leaders could request a reduction in size of the development because of feng shui.
“The whole Wang Chau development was conceived without a public consultation process. We see some people were especially powerful, we don’t know who they are, but they could make big impact on the project. This is not ideal,” he said.
Meanwhile, the housing minister Anthony Cheung Bing-leung clarified his previous claim that Wong and fellow Yuen Long district councillor Roy Kwong Chu-yu agreed to the plan to build 4,000 units at an informal meeting in March 2014.
Both Wong and Kwong denied involvement. They said it was a briefing session on the plan, rather than an informal consultation, and they were never asked about the original plan to build 17,000 units.
Cheung sent Wong and Kwong a letter signed by him on Thursday night clarifying that the meeting only mentioned building 4,000 units, but not the previous plan of 17,000 units.