The Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) said today (March 20) its Antiquities and Monuments Office (AMO) was very concerned about an application to demolish the Hoh Fuk Tong Centre submitted to the Buildings Department on March 1.
The application was submitted by the Hong Kong Council of the Church of Christ in China, the owner of the centre in Tuen Mun.
With support from the Antiquities Advisory Board (AAB) and the Tuen Mun District Council (TMDC), the AMO will make every effort to persuade the Church to withdraw the application.
An LCSD spokesman said the AMO was notified by the Buildings Department about the demolition application on March 5 and took immediate action to consult the AAB and TMDC on March 19 and 20 respectively for their views on preservation of the historic buildings.
"The AAB strongly recommended that the former Dade Institute in the Hoh Fuk Tong Centre be preserved in-situ, and supported the idea of exploring preservation proposals which could meet the interests and aspirations of the public in preserving historical buildings.
"The TMDC also strongly recommended the preservation of the former Dade Institute, and urged the Government to discuss with the owner as soon as possible the question of compensation," the spokesman said.
Located at 28 Castle Peak Road in Tuen Mun, the centre comprises several historical buildings built originally as a villa in 1930s by General Cai Tingkai, who took part in the Anti-Japanese War. From 1946 to 1949, the centre was used as a campus of the Dade Institute, a tertiary institution with strong association with the Chinese Communist Party. Many well-known Chinese scholars, such as Mao Dun, Qian Jiaju and Guo Moruo stayed and lectured there. The significant role of the Dade Institute in the development of modern Chinese history makes it a unique historical building worthy of preservation.
The Dade Institute was closed in 1949. The centre was then sold to the London Missionary Society in the 1950s and the ownership was transferred to the Church in 1961. Since then, it has been used as a religious retreat. In 1999, the Church submitted a redevelopment scheme for the centre, proposing a demolition of all the historical buildings on the site and the two adjoining schools, namely, But San School and Hoh Fuk Tong College.
Having been alerted about the redevelopment proposal and in consideration of the historical value of the former Dade Institute, the AMO took the initiative to discuss with the Church preservation proposals in early 2001. However, no consensus was reached after a series of discussions.
On March 5, the AMO received a notice from the Buildings Department that the Church had submitted a demolition application in respect of the centre and the statutory deadline for the Buildings Department to reply by April 30.
The AMO is liaising closely with the Church and trying to persuade it to withdraw the demolition application. "It is hoped that discussions can be resumed to explore preservation proposals acceptable to both parties," the spokesman said.
End/Thursday, March 20, 2003