Hong Kong: Action elevated for Queen's pier preservation campaign

2007-06-13 - oiwan

Editor notes: Yesterday, a ritualistic demonstration took place at the Queen's pier to show people's determination in preserving the pier via civil disobedient act.

Around thirty participants, with crown on their heads, drank wine together and cried the following slogans:

1. The government officials have forced the people to resist
2. We will fight with determination (direct translation would be "We will fight till we die")
3. Preservation for Queen's Pier
4. Please give us a hand (or we still need your hand)

The elevated action is as a result of the government procedural violence and the puppet nature of the legislative council. Below is a statement(translated by chong) of Local Action that tells the details of the preservation campaign.

Action elevated for Queen's pier preservation campaign

The Legislative Council will approve a special fund to the government's proposal of demolishing the Queen's Pier and relocating to an indetermined site in the future. This is a final legal procedure for government to tear down this pier. With the assistance of police force, the construction workers will seal off this 53-years public space in Hong Kong and then begin to tore it down soon.

Once again, the government is ready to defend its decision with the argument of "all procedures completed", here, we would like to explain to Hong Kong citizens exactly what procedures we have gone through in the past six months.

1. A top-down procedure

Today no more people goes to petition to the financial committee of the Legco. It is because that over half Legco members has already expressed their standpoints in the public work committee on May 23. They are intimidated by Tsang Yam Kuen: Upon Tsang’s order, many Legco members abandoned their principles. Some abstained. Some hid up in the toilet. One of them evaded the responsibility of voting by going to hospital for body check. The so-called "executive-led" system make citizen no longer believe in Legco members. It also forced the Legco to lose the trust of the people.

2. Get the job done by force

In the past six months, not all government procedures had endorsed the decision of demolishing the Queen's Pier. On May 9, in its first citywide live broadcast of meeting, the Antiquity Advisory Board (AAB) granted the pier the Grade I historical building status. This grading, based on public opinion, requires the government to "preserve the building with all means". But after grading, the government officials have been belittling its importance. They repeatedly said that grading is irrelevant to preservation or classifying its status as monument. In order to take down the pier, Tsang sacrificed the representational authority of AAB and insulted the newly appointed members.

3. Self-contradictory procedure

In late May, the Home Affairs Bureau stated clearly in a discussion paper submitted to the Legco that "the Antiquity and Monument Office has been taking administrative measures to ensure the graded building to be preserved according to its historical value." To preserve graded building is the responsiblity of AMO. But in the issue of Queen's Pier, HAB pretends to be silent. When the Housing Bureau proposed "demolition and relocation" in March (before the grading of the pier), why didn't the AMO say a word? Why didn't it take up its responsibility? The government proposal is leading the Queen's Pier to follow the fate of the Murray Building. It was downgraded from Grade I historical building to "not graded" because the original building structure was already destroyed and taken out from its context.

Faced with these messy procedures, many civic organizations such as Local Action, professional groups and cultural workers have worked hard over the past six months. They demanded government releasing the terms of the contract on Central reclamation to the public and submitted a proposal of preserving the pier in situ to the government. They further proposed to look for solutions from the engineering companies with open tender and lobbied the Legco members. The civil society adheres to justice and has aroused Hong Kong people's concern with historical preservation and democratization of city planning. But the government ignores all of them. From the preservation movement of Star Ferry Pier to now, the government has been using PR tactic and procedural violence to impose its plan on Hong Kong. After we have struggled with highly manipulative procedures, the negotiation within the establishment comes to the end. Now we could declare with righteousness : If the governemnt treats the opinion of the civil society as rubbish, the civil society will not accept the government's unjust decision to tear down the pier with procedural violence. The issue of Queen's Pier has not been finished yet!

After the violence of procedure, the violence of bulldozers will come. It had been imposed on the Star Ferry Pier. Now the Queen's Pier is confronting the same violence. At this moment, we have no choice except peaceful civil disobedience, fighting for this Hong Kong's remaining key public building. The members of Local Action have been staying in the pier 24 hours for 47 days. From today onwards, we escalate our action. We show our determination by moving to the canopy of the pier, with the City Hall on our back and facing the sea. We sincerely call upon all people who respect history and cherish our public space to stand out and show people's power at this critical moment. We say NO to the government who is destroying our city arrogantly! Tsang Yam Kuen manipulated the AAB and Legco. Now the only way to beat him down is people persistence and determination.

Local Action

June 12