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Dr Patrick Ho's speech on preservation of Kom Tong Hall


Following is a speech by the Secretary for Home Affairs, Dr Patrick Ho, at the signing ceremony of a Letter of Intent for the preservation of Kom Tong Hall today (February 21):

Mr Garn, Mr. Pon, representatives of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, friends of the press, ladies and gentlemen,

Today I am extremely jubilant to announce that after more than a year's sincere discussion, the Government has finally reached a consensus with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on the preservation of Kom Tong Hall. The Church will be handing over the ownership of Kom Tong Hall to the government for permanent preservation. With minor repairs, Kom Tong Hall will be converted into a Dr Sun Yat-sen Museum.

Built in 1914, Kom Tong Hall was the residence of Ho Kom-tong, younger brother of Sir Robert Ho Tung. It was bought by the Church in 1960 for religious purpose and has been carefully maintained over the years. The splendid decoration you can see here is really not much different from what it originally was when the building was completed 90 years ago. Kom Tong Hall has an exceptionally high historical and architectural value. It can be regarded as a representative historical building in Hong Kong and should be permanently preserved. In the past year, apart from the church being willing to co-operate and discuss with the government, many local residents, especially the Central and Western District Council, have strongly urged that Kom Tong Hall be preserved. Their enthusiasm and support for heritage preservation have helped greatly to bring about the consensus between the Government and the Church, and I would like to extend my most sincere thanks to all these friends of heritage. This is a win-win-win settlement in which the Government, the Church and the public are all happy to see the preservation of Kom Tong Hall for use as a Dr Sun Yat-sen Museum.

Dr. Sun Yat-sen, who led the revolution to overthrow the Qing government and established the first democratic republic in Asia, is one of the most respected figures in Chinese history. He was closely connected to Hong Kong, where he received his education and organised revolutionary activities. There has been a strong demand from the community to establish facilities in commemoration of Dr Sun Yat-sen, and the government has been trying to identify a suitable site for a Dr Sun Museum. We believe that turning Kom Tong Hall into a Dr Sun Museum is a perfect proposal to preserve this historical building while providing a suitable venue for enhancing the understanding of Dr Sun's revolutionary ideas. Preparation will soon begin and the museum is expected to be open in November 2006 to commemorate Dr Sun's 140th birthday. The new Museum will be in close vicinity with the Sun Yat-sen Historical Trail and other heritage and tourist attractions in the area. Visitors could continue their tour to other spots after staying in the Museum, and enhance their understanding of the history and culture of the Central and Western District.

We have recently been making encouraging achievements one after another in respect of heritage preservation. The Lui Seng Chun Building was donated by the Lui's family earlier for adaptive re-use. Today, a consensus is reached with the Church on the preservation of Kom Tong Hall. These two successful examples show that heritage conservation could not be an endeavour of the Government alone. The support of the community and the cooperation of private property owners are of paramount importance. In recent years, the public has been increasingly calling for the preservation of heritage and the Government has actively responded. We are now reviewing our heritage conservation policy and a few days ago, a consultation document was issued. We would like to know the views of the public on some key issues, particularly the questions concerning the adoption of a holistic approach in policy formulation, the type of heritage to be conserved, in what way they should be conserved, as well as how much and who should pay. We hope that views offered by the public would help address the inadequacies in the current policies and be useful reference for the future formulation of a holistic policy on heritage conservation. I hope that this consultation exercise will stimulate more public discussion. Drawing on collective wisdom we will, together, build Hong Kong into a world city with even more historical depth and richer cultural ambience. Thank you very much.

Ends/Saturday, February 21, 2004


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