The historic Red House in Tuen Mun has again been damaged. It came just a week after the Antiquities Advisory Board said its new owner claimed he was willing to discuss how to preserve the building.

Tuen Mun district councillor Yan Siu-nam told HKFP that two workers broke two windows on Wednesday, one in the front and one in the back of the house. Residents reported the incident to the police.

Red House
Workers breaking windows of the Red House. Photo: Land Justice League/Apple Daily.

Locals believe the house is linked to modern China’s “founding father” Sun Yat-sen. Sun was believed to have planned revolutions in the area in the early 20th century, though there is little evidence of exactly when the house was constructed. Although it is a grade one historic building, its status does not protect it from destruction.

The land on which it sits was sold to a company owned by a mainland Chinese person for HK$5 million last November. Its future came into question last month as some of the property’s exterior walls were found to have been demolished, whilst the new owner issued letters asking residents to leave at short notice. However, the works did not receive the required approval from the Building Department.

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Residents protest

Photos showed that workers had used tools to break the windows on Wednesday. Yan, of the Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihood party, said the two workers left after police officers arrived.

“It surely did not receive any approval,” he said. “We were discussing the matter at the District Council yesterday [Tuesday], how destruction cannot occur without approval – but soon after, this happened.”

Democratic Party lawmaker Andrew Wan Siu-kin and the Red House residents protested outside the meeting on Tuesday to urge the government to help relocate the residents.

Red House
One of the broken windows of Red House (left). Photo: Land Justice League/Apple Daily.

A rally was held last month urging the government to preserve the site.

The Development Bureau had claimed that the Buildings Department has been inspecting the site every day since February 18.

At the end of last month, the Antiquities Advisory Board rejected a proposal to declare it a proposed monument, saying that the owner was willing to discuss with the authorities how it may be preserved.

Red House
One of the broken windows of Red House. Photo: Yan Siu-nam.

Should it be listed as a proposed monument, the house would be granted protection for a year until further ratings are approved.

“If, in the future, the owner or anyone does anything that affects the existing historical value, we will start the mechanism to declare it a proposed monument immediately,” board chairman Andrew Lam Siu-lo said at the same.

The Development Bureau said at the time that the new owner did not have any plan for demolition or reconstruction after speaking to his representative.

Lawmaker Andrew Wan said on Tuesday the decision by the Antiquities Advisory Board was “unreasonable, illogical and out of touch.”

He said he will raise a motion at the House Committee of the Legislative Council to allow time for a debate over the issue.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.