5th November 2013
Winston Chu Resigned from Society for Protection of the Harbour in Protest at Town Planning Board’s Unjust Hearing
Yesterday, the Town Planning Board (TPB) began its public hearing sessions in regards to the draft Central District (Extension) Outline Zoning Plan (converting part of Central harbour front into military berth and part of the public space on land will be converted as PLA use only). Each person attended was allowed only 10 minutes to speak, and the TPB turned off the microphone when some speakers were still giving their opinions. Winston Chu Ka-sun, a consultant of Society for Protection of the Harbour for many years, left the session together with many others in protest.
TPB invited 60 people to express their views on the plan yesterday but only eight of them showed up. Seven of these eight attendees expressed their discontent about the TPB cutting off Kenneth Chan Ka-lok’s speech and left the meeting in protest. TPB originally scheduled 16 days for the public to express their opinions, but cancelled its afternoon session yesterday as no one showed up.
Katty Law from Central Harbour Front Concern Group said that some of the speakers prepared speeches that involved complex details on the construction and legal work of the plan, it is impossible for them to finish their speeches in ten minutes. She criticised that TPB was humiliating the speakers for limiting them to speak for only 10 minutes.
Winston Chu, who has been a member of the TPB for years, thinks that the TPB is accountable to the people of Hong Kong, and should not be siding with the government or any other parties, “Hong Kong should be place that has rule of law, but I am very disappointed today as this is no longer true. What the TPB did today is not accountable to the public”. He also criticised that the government has been misleading the general public because as soon as the promenade is turned into a military space, Hong Kong people will forever lose their beautiful harbour, “but we were not allowed to have a debate. This is outrageous! I feel ashamed of what happened today.”
Thomas Chau Tat-ming, Chairman of TPB, denied that the board has stopped speakers from expressing their views. He said that the board has received over 19,000 letters from the public and a record high number of registered speakers (over 1,000), so there is a need to limit the time each speaker is allowed to speak. He also said that people leaving the session in protest is regrettable.
Winston Chu issued a statement in the afternoon announcing that he has decided to resign from his position as a consultant of Society for Protection of the Harbour, an organisation he founded, and all public positions.
In the statement, Chu said that in light of the series of recent incidents, he feels that he can no longer contribute to Hong Kong’s public affairs and decided to leave those positions to others who are more capable and better. He also reiterated his statement years ago, “I am not a hero, but not a coward either. I only wanted to be a fool who want to serve Hong Kong.” Katty Law who knows Chu well said that she’s spoken to Chu over the phone yesterday. She said that Chu told her that his resignation is related to the TPB hearing, but Chu has been preparing documents for the hearing in the past few nights and has a lot of plans for protecting the Victoria Harbour and never mentioned anything about stepping down, “I am certain that he is extremely disappointed about today’s meeting and feels that there is no more rule of law in Hong Kong.” Law is upset about Chu’s decision, “he is like an encyclopedia, he knew everything about the past and has documents to prove them all.” Kenneth Chan also said that Chu was still discussing with him about how to encourage the reform at TPB and his vision for protecting the Victoria Harbour, and did not show any sign of leaving the battle field, hence he is shocked to learn about Chu’s statement.
Age 73, Winston Chu was a trained lawyer, and was a committee member of the TPB between 1988 and 1996. He founded Society for Protection of the Harbour with Christine Loh Kung-wai, current Under Secretary for the Environment, in 1995. In 2003, he filed a judicial review against the Hong Kong SAR government’s land reclamation plan and subsequently won the court case in 2004.