Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Today, the government will announce the successful bidders who will be responsible for breathing new life into the first batch of historic buildings under the Revitalizing Historic Buildings Through Partnership Scheme.
The lease of the Old Tai O Police Station is expected to be awarded to a conservation vehicle set up by the Sino Group to transform the 1,000-square- meter Grade III historic building into a boutique hotel. Meanwhile, the North Kowloon Magistracy project will go to a prominent art and design academy from the United States.
This is the first time that the government has invited the private sector to vie for the historic sites under the revitalization partnership scheme. Seven historic buildings have been selected for experimentation. The other five are the Old Tai Po Police Station, Lui Seng Chun in Mong Kok, Lai Chi Kok Hospital, Fong Yuen Study Hall in Ma Wan, and Mei Ho House in Shek Kip Mei.
In view of the recent row over the North Kowloon Magistracy - in which Cantonese opera "big sister" Liza Wang Ming-chuen complained the outcome was "fixed" - the authorities are leaving nothing to speculation, as they prepare for today's announcement.
At the press conference this afternoon, development minister Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, and Bernard Charnwut Chan, chairman of the advisory committee on the revitalization scheme, will field various pressing questions. These include why the Old Tai O Police Station is being awarded to a non-profit-making body formed by a commercial group, and why the North Kowloon Magistracy is granted to a US academy instead of a local body.
The announcement will also be followed by intensive public relations maneuvers. Over the next few days, special arrangements will be made for the media to interview the successful applicants at the respective sites. The winners of the North Kowloon Magistracy and the Old Tai O Police Station will be among the first to explain how their plans can conserve the buildings and release their potential.
The approach is to provide as much information as possible to assure the process has been fair and transparent.
It is understandable why Lam and Chan are taking such great pains to dispel any rumors of favoritism.
Apart from Wang's accusations, it is the partnership concept that will come under close public scrutiny, as the successful completion of the projects will have a definite bearing on the hundreds of historic buildings on Lam's long list.
According to the Antiquities and Monuments Office, about 1,400 historic buildings could potentially be graded as historic sites. Among those best known are King Yin Lei on Stubbs Road, the former residence of kung fu legend Bruce Lee, in Kowloon Tong, and Dragon Garden, in Sham Tseng.
Plans for the seven initial projects will provide valuable reference, while Hong Kong taps the potential of hundreds of similar structures in striving to enrich the city's cultural life.
It's saddening to learn that 8 Woh lost the bidding! I was looking forward to having another interesting museum to visit when I travel to Hong Kong. =(
It would be so interesting to learn more about Cantonese Opera as my grandparents used to enjoy the performances. It would be a culturally and historically enriching experience for the younger generation. Unlike Hong Kong, Malaysians do not have the privilege to watch any good quality performances here in Malaysia. It's such a waste that the HK government is not paying sufficient attention to promote and ensure the survival of Cantonese Opera in HK.
I have watched a few of Liza's opera performances and I must say that I like it a lot, although I might not be able to understand it without the subtitles. It has certainly helped me improve my Cantonese.
I firmly support all of Liza's efforts to preserve the diminishing art of Cantonese Opera.