School demolition prompts return of HK donation funds

Updated: 2012-05-26 08:03

By Huang Zhiling in Chengdu (China Daily)

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The Mianyang city government in Sichuan province said it honored the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region's decision to take back its HK$2 million ($257,500) in aid for the construction of the Mianyang Bauhinia Ethnic Secondary School.

School demolition prompts return of HK donation funds 

School buildings are demolished to make way for a commercial plaza in Mianyang, a city in Sichuan province. The Mianyang Bauhinia Ethnic Secondary School was built using donations from Hong Kong after an earthquake hit Sichuan province in 2008. Li Qiaoqiao / Xinhua 

"And it (Mianyang government) will ensure good quality and timely completion of the school at its new site," said Chen Wen, an information officer with the city government's information office, on Friday.

Stephen Lam Sui-lung, chief secretary for administration in the government of the HKSAR, said the Hong Kong government would return the money to the Trust Fund in Support of Reconstruction in the Sichuan Earthquake-Stricken Areas.

The chief secretary, who made the remarks after meeting with Wei Hong, executive vice-governor of Sichuan, on Thursday afternoon, said: "The Sichuan side said that the local government in Mianyang had demolished the school without the consent of the government of the HKSAR, which did not conform to the arrangements for the aid project made by Sichuan and Hong Kong. The Sichuan side would investigate the case."

Wei said that governments at different levels in the Sichuan quake zone had to improve management mechanisms and cherish the love of the government of the HKSAR and Hong Kong compatriots.

The Mianyang Bauhinia Ethnic Secondary School was rebuilt with HK$2 million donated from the Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers and another HK$2 million from the Hong Kong government.

"We thought the school would serve the local community for a long time. After the school was built, the Mianyang side said it would dismantle the school. But the Hong Kong government did not approve it," he said.

The school went into operation in late March 2010. But in January 2011, the adjacent western campus of the Mianyang Normal College was moved. The school, which had rented the college's playgrounds and bathrooms, no longer had those accommodations, said Yao Ding, deputy chief of Mianyang's bureau of education and sports.

After consulting representatives of the Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers, departments in charge of education, planning and construction in Mianyang chose a site for the new school in the city's science and education park, Yao said.

Facing mounting media pressure after the school buildings were dismantled, Li Ze, an official with Mianyang's investment promotion bureau, said the buildings were torn down by the Wanda Group without the consent of the local government.

But Wang Jianlin, boss of the Wanda Group, refuted the claim in the Beijing News, saying the government had transferred the land to his group improperly. "It is an accepted norm that any land transferred should be devoid of buildings on it," he said.