Self-proclaimed non-establishment party Third Side has urged the Hong Kong government to help rehouse businesses and villagers who will be displaced by a proposed public housing development in Tuen Mun.

Turbo Ice, Third Side
Representatives of Third Side, Turbo Ice, and affected residents in San Hing Tsuen petitioned at the Central Government Complex on October 6. Photo: Peter Lee/HKFP.

The fate of Turbo Ice – a major ice supplier in Hong Kong that supports 30 per cent of the catering sector – residents and other nearby businesses remains uncertain amid plans to build 21,600 flats on land they occupy at San Hing Tsuen.

Legislator and Third Side’s chairperson Tik Chi-yuen, the party’s vice-chair Caspar Wong, and representatives of those affected in San Hing Tsuen visited the Central Government Complex on Thursday morning to petition for help.

The Development Bureau earlier told HKFP that Turbo Ice still has three years at its current location, giving it enough time to make its own preparations to move. But Wong said it remained difficult for the business to look for alternative locations while still operating.

In addition, Wong said the current facilities at Turbo Ice would not fit into any multi-storey industrial buildings. “We hope [authorities] can provide assistance immediately, not waiting for three years until [the ice factory] has to go,” he said.

Caspar Wong Third Side
Caspar Wong, the vice-chairperson of Third Side. Photo: Peter Lee/HKFP.

Hang Chan, Turbo Ice’s executive director, told reporters the government seemingly failed to understand that their product was a daily necessity.

Chan told HKFP that Hong Kong’s ice-makers were barely meeting demand in the peak season. If Turbo Ice had to shut down, he said, there could be a shortage of ice in the city with people possibly having to pay double or triple the price for an iced drink.

“If the supply chain breaks, what are your plans for the hottest days?” Chan asked, adding that his 150 employees and many business partners were “very worried” about the fate of the business.

Calls for negotiations

The proposed development project will also force away Mr. Cho and other residents as well as businesses in the area.

Hang Chan, Turbo Ice
Hang Chan, the executive director of Turbo Ice. Photo: Peter Lee/HKFP.

Speaking on behalf of the affected villagers, Cho said all they asked for was for the government to negotiate with them, adding that they did not insist on objecting to the resumption and clearance of the land.

But Cho said authorities had only handed them a pamphlet about the government’s compensation and rehousing policies, without officially stating how they would be compensated.

“If you have a good rehousing strategy and compensation scheme, why won’t I accept it? But there isn’t, so people feel insecure, anxious, and agitated, and that’s why people protest,” Cho said.

Mr Cho, affected villager
Mr Cho. Photo: Peter Lee/HKFP.

Caspar Wong said in a statement that the government had been shirking its responsibility to find alternative locations for people affected by land resumption and this was “absolutely inadvisable.”

He said the government “seemingly has not learnt any lessons” from previous land resumption issues, as there was insufficient communication with residents and an incomplete planning process that “strangles” the living space of many traditional industries.

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Peter Lee is a reporter for HKFP. He was previously a freelance journalist at Initium, covering political and court news. He holds a Global Communication bachelor degree from CUHK.