The controversial HK$50 million Tai Po “Tiananmen” project has been scrapped, after the group which proposed the project pulled out.

The original plan was part of former chief executive Leung Chun-ying’s policy of allocating HK$100 million to each district for community projects. A rural group proposed improvements to the Lam Tsuen Wishing Square in Tai Po, but the design was dubbed a replica of Tiananmen Square and was criticised as being a “white elephant” project.

Tai Po pro-democracy district councillor Ken Lau, who has been opposing the project for years, said the Home Affairs Department told him on Wednesday that the project had been cancelled.

Lam Tsuen Tiananmen
The proposed design of Lam Tsuen Wishing Square – dubbed “Lam Tsuen Tiananmen” – in Tai Po. Photo: LegCo.

“I hope the government will listen to Tai Po residents carefully before spending the HK$50 million that remains unused, and will not make the same mistake again,” he said.

The funds for the project failed to pass at the last Finance Committee meeting at the end of the Legislative Council term in July 2016, since lawmakers were waging a filibuster against other government funding proposals ahead of the Tai Po project.

The Tai Po Lam Tsuen Heung Educational Development Company proposed the project. Lam Luk-wing, a director of the company, is also a former Tai Po district councillor.

Lam told news site In-Media that the company had retracted the proposal because of the filibuster: “There’s no point to drag it on… I don’t want to waste the government’s time,” he said.

Lam Tsuen Tiananmen
The proposed design of Lam Tsuen Wishing Square – dubbed “Lam Tsuen Tiananmen” – in Tai Po. Photo: In-Media.

According to Lau, a Tai Po District Council document showed that the government was considering putting the funds into a project to transform the Tai Po Government Secondary School into an arts centre.

The funds for the project have already been approved, but it may be expanded with the extra funds from the town square project.

The proposal aims to attract established performing arts groups to take up residence, so that they can offer high standard arts courses and performances for the community as well as interact with young people.

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.