Activist Lester Shum has filed a legal challenge against the Hong Kong government’s plan to reclassify a strip of the Central waterfront and give it to the Chinese military based in the city.

The Town Planning Board approved the outline zoning plan in 2014 to rezone the section of around 3,000 square meters between the Central Piers and Tamar Park. In a document given to the Legislative Council last week, the government said it has the duty to hand over the dock to the garrison as soon as possible in order to fulfil the statutory responsibility as set out in the Garrison Law.

Lester Shum court
Lester Shum submits his judicial review application on the PLA camp on the Central harbourfront. Photo: Holmes Chan/HKFP.

Earlier this month, the government said it planned to amend the Military Installations Closed Areas Order to declare four one-storey buildings within the pier as closed areas. The government said it may consider opening other areas in the pier in the form of “protected places,” on the condition that its defence functions would not be compromised.

Shum, an assistant of lawmaker Eddie Chu, applied for a judicial review on Wednesday. He asked the court to quash the decision by the Town Planning Board and the government.

He also asked for an injunction to block the government from transferring the site to the Chinese army.

Central Military Dock
The Central Military Dock located at the Central harbourfront. File photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Shum said outside court that the Chinese army will have full control of the site after it was handed to them.

“The Hong Kong government and the police have no right to manage it. How can the Hong Kong government fulfil its promise that the pier will be open to the public?” he said.

He said that, if the site was given to the Chinese army, residents passing through the harbourfront will have to go around the site – extending some 20 metres back from the promenade.

He said he believed he will obtain legal aid, unless there was political intervention.

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Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng

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.