Public should not buy parts detached from King Yin Lei

A spokesman for the Development Bureau today (June 3) called on members of the public not to buy the parts taken down from the King Yin Lei building in 2007 which have been put up for sale on an auction website.

"The Government has been pressing ahead with heritage conservation work in the past two years, and such efforts are generally supported and recognised by the community. King Yin Lei was declared a monument in July 2008 and under the agreement between the Government and the owner, the owner is responsible for restoring the mansion at his own cost under the supervision of the Antiquities and Monuments Office (AMO). We strongly disagree with any public trading of those parts taken down from the King Yin Lei building as this would have an undesirable effect on our heritage conservation work in future," the spokesman said.

"We also have no intention to use public funds to buy the parts. We hope the holder of these materials would consider donating them to facilitate the restoration of King Yin Lei.

"Upon liaison by the Commissioner for Heritage's Office, the owner's representative of King Yin Lei and the holder of the parts have in fact met to explore the return of the parts but no agreement was reached despite several rounds of discussion. We understand that the stance of the owner is to recover the parts to be retrofitted to King Yin Lei on a reasonable basis and at a reasonable price without affecting the progress and the total cost of the restoration works. However, the owner will not consider purchasing the parts from the holder at an additional premium.”

The spokesman said the heritage value of King Yin Lei rests mainly in the layout of its architecture and its historic value, showcasing Hong Kong's superb architectural techniques and craftsmanship in the early colonial period. Since the building materials have a relatively short history, whether the exact piece of the original material (e.g. the demolished parts) would be reinstated should not significantly affect the heritage value of the restored mansion.

The AMO has commissioned Professor Tang Guohua of the School of Architecture and Urban Planning of Guangzhou University to assess King Yin Lei's heritage and architectural value and to advise on the restoration works. Based on his assessment, the restoration should be able to achieve 80% of the original appearance of King Yin Lei while the heritage value could basically be restored.

The restoration works are being carried out in two phases. The first phase, covering the restoration of the roof tiles, was completed in April this year. The second phase, focusing on the restoration of external walls and internal decoration, is scheduled for completion in 2010.

"Although recovery of the parts of the King Yin Lei building may assist the comprehensive restoration works, we consider that the principle and spirit of heritage conservation should not be compromised," the spokesman said.

Ends/Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Issued at HKT 18:23