Isa Kwok Ling
Established in 1902, the Tai O Police Station witnessed the development of the police force in Lamma Island for over 100 years. However, the station will be revitalised and transformed into Hong Kong Heritage Hotel, a four-star boutique hotel containing nine rooms, a rooftop restaurant and a heritage library and museum.
Ms Wong Wai-king, founder of the Tai O culture Workshop, has been living in Tai O for 51 years. She felt very disappointed about the government’s plan.
She thought it should be restored as police station and serve its original purpose instead of being converted into a high-class hotel which is totally not match with the neighborhood.
“I hate the word revitalisation,” she said. “If you have to revitalise something, you are treating it as if it has dead. It was the government who left the police station unused. I don’t understand why they turn it into a hotel for money-making.”
She even predicted that the heritage hotel may become as a club house for those celebrities in the future.
Ms Wong added that, “for those who really want to experience the life in the fishing village probably will not choose to stay in the hotel, while other visitors are no willing to spend over a thousand dollars a night for a hotel located in Tai O.”
Regardless of the new hotel can attract wealthy visitors, the renewing scheme itself is a huge outlay.
The project will be conducted a by a non-profit organisation, the Hong Kong Heritage Conservation of Foundation Limited.
And $64.9 million funding has been granted to the company through the Revitalising Historical Buildings through partnership Scheme.
After the construction has finished, the operation and management costs will be covered by the foundation itself.
Assistance general manager of the foundation, Ms Una Lau Yukman said, “we expect to achieve a balance account after one year.”
The foundation said they will undergo the project according to the principles of heritage conservation, preserve the original building as much as possible and only clear up the decaying parts.
“We will try to keep each single brick and tree during the construction and renovate them. But for some parts that were too old which cannot be restored will have to be eliminated.”
Besides promoting the history of the old Tai O Police Station, the foundation will also cooperate with the local society to organise some workshops and eco-tours to show the unique scence to tourists. Various food feasts will be held as well in order to bring in local products and souvenirs, like shrimp paste and salty fish.
But Ms Wong believed that there is something more than money.
“Culture is developed from our daily life. As culture is diverted from traditions and habits and it is also accumulated through days and years,” she said.
She commented the foundation as an outsider, which is prestigious and not coherent with the community. “There is no emotional linkage between them [the foundation and Tai O environment! .”
The founder of the workshop called on the government to preserve the ecological and cultural environment and help the community to maintain sustainable development.
There are approximately 2,000 residents living in Tai O now, while many are old people and the local society is very simple. Citizens there mainly make a living by tourism business or secondary production of seafood.
“Every district has its own characteristic. We cannot alter them and transform them into same models. Although Tai O is not affected by the urbanisation yet, Ms Wong said.
“I think none of the local resident or tourist want Tai O to turn into another Tung Chung, which consist of various shopping malls and restaurants. We should keep the uniqueness of our community.”
Edited by Carine To
“I think none of the local resident or tourist want Tai O to turn into another Tung Chung, which consist of various shopping malls and restaurants. We should keep the uniqueness of our community,” Ms Wong said.