SDEV speaks on conservation plans for archaeological features discovered at To Kwa Wan Station of the Shatin to Central Link

Following is the transcript of remarks by the Secretary for Development, Mr Paul Chan, at a media session on the conservation plans for archaeological features discovered at To Kwa Wan Station of the Shatin to Central Link today (December 8):

Reporter: Mr Chan, the AAB (Antiquities Advisory Board) has been accused of not having enough consultation with the local archaeological community, so what do you think about that? And also how much actually would the second and third cheapest options cost? And would they cause less damages to the relics? Why haven't you considered them as well?

Secretary for Development: As I mentioned, the archaeological discoveries in this To Kwa Wan Station has been in the public domain for more than a year. And ever since November last year, it has been attracting a lot of attention. And from April this year, regular reports have been made available to the Antiquities Advisory Board. All these papers and reports are also uploaded onto the websites. So all these are public information. The general public as well as different stakeholders have enough time to digest the information and offer their comments over the past six months or so. The current proposal recommended by the AAB which we have accepted, in our view, is the best option in terms of heritage value, engineering risk minimisation, the impact on the Shatin to Central Link, and the financial side. So this is quite a balanced decision. As to the cost of the other options, it ranges from about $1 billion to close to $1.3 billion. They have their own pros and cons. These have been set out before, so allow me not to repeat them here.

Reporter: Mr Chan, how do you respond to doubts that the heritage value of the J2 well and the water duct will be lost if we are reinstating them instead of keeping them in the same position? And what is the breakdown of the $1 billion you intended to put into this operation? When do you expect the To Kwa Wan Station and the Shatin to Central Link to be completed?

Secretary for Development: In respect of your question on the final completion of the Shatin to Central Link, I don't have the timing with me. It is under the portfolio of the Transport and Housing Bureau. But we are all very anxious about pushing this project forward because this is a very important project, not just for Hong Kong but also for the residents there. So rest assured that we will try our best to speed up the programme. As to the heritage value of the J2 well, as you may have heard our explanation before, unlike the other two wells uncovered in the neighbouring area, this particular well has been subject to damages and dissection before. So in terms of heritage value, it is not as good as the other two. From an archaeological standpoint, if we can dismantle this J2 well, and then do a dissection, that will enable us to understand better the construction method of that time. According to the assessment of our experts in the heritage office, the dismantling and subsequently resembling of this particular well will be able to retain 80 per cent of the heritage value. On balance, the current proposal of dismantling and resembling, to us, is a well-considered and balanced decision.

(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)

Ends/Monday, December 8, 2014
Issued at HKT 21:14