The Government spokesman announced today (February 21) that a consensus has been reached with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the owner of Kom Tong Hall, on the preservation of this historical building. The Government will acquire Kom Tong Hall at a consideration of $53 million for converting the building into a Dr Sun Yat-sen Museum.
The Secretary for Home Affairs, Dr Patrick Ho Chi-ping, today officiated at a ceremony where the Director of Lands, Mr Patrick Lau Lai-chiu, signed on behalf of the Government a Letter of Intent with the Church to confirm the afore-mentioned consensus. A Deed of Surrender will be signed in late March and relevant legal procedures will be cleared to complete the transfer of the building's ownership.
Speaking at the ceremony, Dr Ho noted that with distinguished historical and architectural merits, Kom Tong Hall could be regarded as a representative historical building in Hong Kong which was worth permanent preservation.
"We are glad that a consensus is reached with the Church to preserve the building after a year of sincere negotiation. This consensus is a win-win outcome for the Government, the Church and the public, who will all be pleased to see this invaluable building being preserved and turned into a Dr Sun Yat-sen Museum," he said.
The Government plans to convert Kom Tong Hall into a Dr Sun Yat-sen Museum with a budget of $91 million, to introduce Dr Sun's life and his revolutionary activities in Hong Kong. It is anticipated that the Museum will be open to the public in November 2006 to commemorate Dr Sun's 140th birthday.
Dr Sun Yat-sen is one of the most respectable figures in the history of China. He led the revolution and established the first republican government in China. He received his education in Hong Kong and organised revolutionary activities in the territory.
Dr Ho said: "The Government has been searching for a suitable site for the provision of Dr Sun Yat-sen Museum. We believe that the use of the Kom Tong Hall as the Museum would be the best solution both to the preservation of this historical building and the provision of a suitable venue for the promotion of the understanding of Dr Sun's life and philosophy."
Being centrally located among the many points of heritage interest in the Central and Western District, including the Sun Yat-sen Historical Trail, the future Dr Sun Museum will well serve as an anchor where visitors could gain an insight into Dr Sun's history and activities in Hong Kong before setting off for other tourist attractions in the area.
The Kom Tong Hall, located at 7 Castle Road, Central and Western District, was built in 1914 as a residence of the affluent Ho Kom-tong family. Built in the classical style architecture of the Edwardian period, the building is lavishly decorated with stained glass windows, teakwood staircase and panels, most of which well-preserved in their original state.
The building was purchased by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in 1960 and has been used as a religious education institute since then. In October 2002, the Church submitted an application to the Building Authority to demolish the building. The Government approached the Church immediately on learning about the demolition proposal, and finally reached a consensus with the Church in preserving the building after series of negotiations.
The Government spokesman hoped that the preservation of the Kom Tong Hall could serve as a successful example to encourage the community and private property owners to join hands with the Government in the conservation of cultural heritage.
Ends/Saturday, February 21, 2004