Accessibility links

Hong Kong Government Promises to Give Public More Say on Fate of Landmarks


The Hong Kong government says it will give the public a greater voice in the conservation of historic buildings. The plan was issued in response to growing public concern over the demolition of what little remains of the city's architectural heritage. VOA's Kate Pound Dawson has this report prepared by Juliet Ye in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong Secretary for Home Affairs Patrick Ho says the government will improve the conservation of historic buildings. He says it will start by reviewing the current heritage advisory body and seeking the advice of the public.

"We will actively collect public views and consider how to expand the current built heritage assessment criteria incorporating elements about 'collective memory' as appropriate," he said.

The new advisory body will include some of the people who protested last month's demolition of the Star Ferry pier on Hong Kong Island. Ho says those protests, which came too late to save the site, caught the government's attention, and prompted it to adopt a new approach toward historic preservation.

As Hong Kong's population surged from less than 1 million to nearly 7 million people in the past 60 years, thousands of small, old buildings were knocked down to make room for modern high-rise apartment towers and office buildings.

In the past, neither the government nor the public showed much regard for Hong Kong's architectural history, as building after building from the territory's British colonial past was demolished.

In recent years, however, public anger has been quietly building, while the government continued to demolish historic sites.

The anger boiled over in December, in the demonstrations against the demolition of the Star Ferry pier, a landmark that was moved to make way for a new road.

Protesters now are trying to block plans to demolish Queen's Pier, another historic location on the harbor.

The government has not given in on the Queen's Pier demolition, but Patrick Ho says city officials have taken note of the protests.

"The Star Ferry incident last year, of course, has caught our attention," he added. "We are well aware that the public sentiment for preserving cultural heritage in Hong Kong has become more active."

The Home Affairs Bureau plans to conduct a number of public forums on the heritage question, and also will meet with various experts in architecture and urban design in the coming month.

XS
SM
MD
LG