The Secretary for Home Affairs has initiated action
to declare the Morrison Building in Tuen Mun a monument
under the Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance, a Government
spokesman said today (October 31).
A notice under Section 4 of the Ordinance today was
served on the Hong Kong Council of the Church of Christ
in China, the owner of the Morrison Building, as one
of the statutory procedures needed to declare the building,
a monument for permanent protection.
“The building, which is part of the Hoh Fuk Tong Centre,
bears witness to the unique role played by Hong Kong
in the history of modern China and the establishment
of the People's Republic of China,” the spokesman said.
The Morrison Building was originally part of a villa
built in 1936 by General Cai Tingjie (1892-1968), who
led the Nineteen Corps against the Japanese invasion.
It was used for tertiary education by the Dade Institute,
founded under the directive of Chinese leaders Zhou Enlai
and Dong Biwu, from 1946 to 1949. Many eminent Chinese
scholars of the time lectured at the institute, nurturing
a group of young intellectuals.
The building was declared a proposed monument on April
11, a move that protected it for 12 months against the
owner's demolition plan, which was submitted to the Building
Authority earlier this year. The declaration of a proposed
monument is not renewable on private land.
The Government has been negotiating with the owner on
the preservation of the Morrison Building. However, no
agreement could be reached.
“It was necessary to consider declaring the building
a monument because the owner may apply again for a demolition
permit once the proposed monument status expires. Failing
to save the building from demolition would mean an irrevocable
loss of our cherished heritage,” the spokesman said.
As the statutory procedures to declare the building
a monument will require several months to complete, the
Government has to start the declaration process now.
It will not affect the owner's appeal against the earlier
declaration of proposed monument, which the owner has
lodged and is being handled by the relevant authority.
The Antiquities Advisory Board has been consulted and
supported the intended declaration.
Once it is served with the Section 4 notice, the owner
may object by petition to the Chief Executive against
the intended declaration, and the Chief Executive in
Council is the final authority for giving directions.
If a declaration of monument is eventually made under
Section 3, the declaration will be vetted by the Legislative
Council as subsidiary legislation. There is a compensation
provision under Section 8 of the Ordinance. The Government
is also willing to bear the conservation and maintenance
costs of the building after the declaration, provided
it will be open for public visits.
The ownership of the property will not be affected by
the declaration and it can use, and pursue redevelopment
of, the Hoh Fuk Tong site provided that the declared
monument is preserved in-situ. The area intended for
declaration covers only a very small portion of the owner's
previously proposed redevelopment site.
“The Government is committed to protecting important
historical buildings ” the spokesman said.
Ends/October 31, 2003