Public card played in row over leisure park

Local | Phila Siu and Kenneth Foo 20 Apr 2012

Prominent Heung Yee Kuk member Leung Fuk- yuen insists he is serving the public interest by putting up structures on government land that forms part of his commercial leisure park.

Leung was speaking a day after Director of Audit Benjamin Tang Kwok-bun blamed the Lands Department for lax enforcement at Tai Tong Lychee Valley, Yuen Long.

Tang also blamed the department for failing to act on the case of illegal occupation of government land for 18 years, during which time the owners have not paid a cent.

Leung said he put up the structures - toilets, animal shelters, wooden sheds, storage containers and fruit trees - in the Tai Lam Country Park for the benefit of park visitors.

"In fact, I am helping them when they visit the country park," said Leung, denying he is occupying government land.

He said if the authorities insist that he has to get rid of the structures, visitors will have to relieve themselves in public because the toilets will have to be torn down as well.

The latest audit report on Wednesday revealed the leisure park occupies 12,400 square meters, with 4,670 sq meters on government land.

Visitors have to pay HK$20 to enter the Lychee Valley or HK$150 for a package that includes horse- riding activities, a buffet lunch and a chance to feed sheep and goats as well.

But Leung stressed that visitors are being charged just to cover operating costs.

He admitted spending "several hundred thousands" of dollars on "consultants" in an effort to retain the park structures.

But the District Land Office rejected his demand for short-term tenancy eight times.

Officers said they could not issue a license for a commercial operator on government land.

Leung has now promised to remove all illegal structures before April 28.

He will stop occupying government land before May 18.

The department will not rule out the possibility of prosecuting Leung if the deadlines are not met.

The maximum penalty for an illegal occupation like this is a HK$10,000 fine and six months in jail.

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