March 29, 2023
Hong Kong Sawmill Resists Government Eviction

For the previous 40 a long time, Wong Hung-kuen and his two siblings have owned Chi Kee Sawmill & Timber. Acknowledged as the “Last Sawmill in Hong Kong,” it now faces imminent eviction by the Hong Kong authorities.

The Wongs are the next era to work the business enterprise launched 75 decades in the past in Hong Kong’s North Position district. The company moved numerous times just before 1982 when it settled into its recent place in Kwu Tung around the border with China’s Shenzhen city.

It’s an location exactly where Hong Kong authorities have been pushing advancement to handle a serious housing lack.

The sawmill acquired an eviction detect in January 2019, according to the South China Early morning Post, which said the Wongs faced a June 30 deadline.

They have not yet moved, and even although some regional people want to conserve the sawmill, the government is moving in advance with its designs.

A spokesperson for the Lands Department advised the South China Morning Put up: “The governing administration had provided more than a two several years buffer to make it possible for the sawmill to relocate itself” and the improvement plan can no longer be delayed.

He mentioned that according to office documents, the sawmill had not acknowledged the help the authorities made available for land scheduling session and mediation products and services.

Wong Hung-kuen, 74, and his siblings want a two-calendar year grace period of time to let them to process about 1,000 tons of timber they have on hand into furniture or artworks fairly than sending it to landfills. That timber contains cherished woods like camphor, made use of to make good home furniture and cabinetry.

“Authorities can acquire all the timber in dozens of trucks to the landfill … . This is the way they want to offer with the timber,” Wong instructed VOA Cantonese. “But we really hope to make good use of it and make the most effective use of it in mother nature.”

Hong Kong

In addition to giving them extra time to deal with their stock that includes wooden recycled from nearby demolition websites, the spouse and children is also proposing to transform the sawmill into a museum to showcase traditional Hong Kong wood craftsmanship and the purpose it performed Hong Kong’s earlier.

In accordance to Wong, the philosophy at the rear of the company includes prolonging the daily life of trees and turning them into useful wood.

“Especially wood, we will have to cherish it, since without having trees, we animals are unable to have living space,” Wong mentioned. “Trees have aided us a large amount. It is most vital for us to have an frame of mind of gratitude.”

Wong claimed that he and his siblings want the sawmill preserved instead than receiving compensation from the authorities. According to the South China Morning Post the authorities is featuring HK$1,500 (US$191) for each square foot to reclaim the land.

That, Wong instructed the South China Morning Write-up, is inadequate for a company so entwined with Hong Kong’s publish-Earth War II heritage.

“If it’s wrecked, it is these kinds of a pity. … Why not protect this? There are some (historic values) in below,” Wong explained to VOA Cantonese.

Wong hopes to remain in the wooden manufacturing facility as prolonged as possible in part so he can go on educating younger people about utilizes for wood.

According to Ng Cheuk-dangle, a volunteer in the anti-eviction hard work, Chi Kee has held a woodworking classes every single thirty day period due to the fact 2016. Lessons include things like identifying tree species, instruction in making household furniture and artwork using wood, and, most importantly, why the learners should cherish wood and mother nature. Ng claimed that he aids teach the courses.

Despite remaining suspended through COVID-19 lockdowns, the class has been held at least 60 situations so significantly and extra than 1,000 folks have participated, which include people from the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom and Chinese University of Hong Kong.

According to Ng, Chi Kee wrote the Lands Section in February asking for leniency but been given no reaction. He additional that the corporation has been trying to locate a new site but the a single possibility turned out to be much too highly-priced.

Ng explained that for several years, Chi Kee obtained wood from demolished web sites from Hong Kong authorities and assisted recycle it.

“It is essentially a pretty unusual predicament,” Ng told VOA Cantonese. “On the a person hand, the governing administration continues to provide some wooden, or these community institutions continue on to bring some wooden, and want us to deal with it, but on the other hand, it (the government) proceeds to take back again our manufacturing facility.”