Last two walled village holdouts call it quits

Local | Adeline Mak 26 Jan 2016

The curtain has come down on the last urban walled village in Kowloon.

The remaining two business operators in Nga Tsin Wai Tsuen agreed yesterday to move out, leaving the way clear for the Urban Renewal Authority to build residential flats that are expected to be completed within three years.

Most of the villagers of the 600-year-old walled village have already left, but the two stalwarts stayed until terms were agreed to by yesterday's midnight deadline.

Kwok Yue-ka, owner of a salon, said he accepted the settlement proposal offered to all villagers by the URA.

The other businessman, Lee, balked at the proposal but agreed to a compensation offer, though he would not give details.

Under the proposal, store operators can be back in business once the redevelopment is completed for HK$600 a month for the first three years, HK$3,000 for the fourth year and HK$6,000 for the fifth.

Future rents would be dictated by market rates.

Lee said the URA's proposed rents after the first three years are not affordable and lamented the sway big business held in Hong Kong.

Lee said he decided to leave the village because he did not wish to risk the safety of villagers and activists who stayed with him.

"Who knows what will happen tomorrow. I am already 70 years old," he said of his future plans.

Villagers said some will probably reopen their businesses but close before the rent shoots up to HK$3,000.

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