Rural leader Tsang Shu-wo may make close to HK$100 million annually by operating a car park on the brownfield site at the centre of the Wang Chau land controversy, Apple Daily reports.

Tsang, chairman of the Ping Shan Rural Committee, allegedly “soft lobbied” the government over the proposed Wang Chau housing project. The government has been accused of scaling down a plan for 17,000 public housing flats, whilst approving 4,000 flats on a nearby greenfield site, in order to avoid conflicts with rural leaders including Tsang. Tsang has denied the allegations.

Tsang Shu-wo
Tsang Shu-wo.

Tsang’s Fuk Hi Car Park takes up 17 hectares of the disputed land in Yuen Long. Citing publicly available data, Apple Daily reports that the car park area was originally designated as greenbelt zone and open storage field, but less than 10 per cent was given permission by the Town Planning Board for the zoning change. Hong Kong laws requires land owners to obtain permission for a change of land use.

Of the 17 hectares on which the car park sits, Tsang only owns 1,800 square feet, according to Apple Daily. Around four hectares of the site sits on government land, part of which has not been authorised for use. The rest of the land is privately owned by several landlords.

Map outlining the brownfield site and greenbelt zone. Photo: Google Earth/HKFP.

The owners include the Tang, Shing, and Yeung families – all indigenous inhabitants of the New Territories, as well as affluent families such as the Chung family through Melbourne Enterprise Limited, the Or family through Kowloon Development Company Limited. The Ma family’s Tai Sang Bank, and the Hui family’s Koon Wah Mirror Holdings Limited also own portions of the land.

Lau Wong-fat, former chairman of the Heung Yee Kuk, owns portions which he inherited from his late mother.

HK$1k per square foot

A lease shows that Tsang rented a 0.54 hectare piece of land at HK$1 per square foot from the Hui family. Alongside his own car park business, Apple Daily estimates that by sub-letting out his land to recycling, car washing, and shipping container storage businesses, Tsang could be pocketing close to HK$100 million annually. East Week, citing sources, reports that car park could be earning up to HK$8 million per month.

wang chau brownfield site
The open storage facility in Wang Chau. Photo: Stanley Leung/HKFP.

It is unclear how Tsang obtained the remaining land as the Lands Registry does not disclose data of lease agreements between Tsang and the other land owners.

Should the government take back some of the land, Tsang’s small portion of land ownership would mean that he would receive a tiny amount in compensation compared to what he would earn from his car park business.

Stanley is a Media and Communications graduate from Goldsmiths College in London. He takes particular interest in visual journalism, having produced photographic and video work on a number of social and political issues. He has also interned at the current affairs service of RTHK’s TV division.