Elderly woman injured by charging buffalo in Ham Tin

An 82-year-old woman required stitches after being charged by an undesexed buffalo last week, sparking another discussion about buffalo and land management.

The woman, surnamed Wan, was out with her helper near old Ham Tin village at 7am last Saturday when she was struck by the buffalo, “running as fast a horse,” Oriental Daily reported.

She required six stitches in her head and three stitches in each of her hands.

The woman’s son said that whenever he went out he would keep his distance from the buffalo. Other villagers also felt alarmed. Some had complained to the AFCD that the buffalo had destroyed their vegetables and crops.

Jean Leung, the Pui O buffalo carer, said the male buffalo, which she named Bulging Eyes, came from Mung Tung Wan a few months ago.

She had advised the AFCD vets to take him to be desexed “because he was always fighting” with other buffalo, but it was difficult to arrange because he kept moving from place to place.

Bulging Eyes (Photo: Jean Leung)

He has since been captured by AFCD and desexed, she said.

Eddie Tse from the Save Lantau Alliance, told Oriental Daily the increased conflict between humans and bovines was related to land development.

An increasing amount of buffalo habitat in Pui O in being fenced off, while some private landowners have taken advantage of a law that allows them to dump trash on their own plots with government approval.

He said some conservation groups had called for the creation of special ecological zones for buffalo. They had forwarded proposals to the government but so far had had no response.

Carrie Lam vowed to protect the Pui O wetlands, Hong Kong’s last remaining buffalo habitat, when she took office in 2017.

She set up a new unit in CEDD called the Sustainable Lantau Office but it has taken no action to prevent the continued shrinkage and is yet to come up with a long-term plan to ensure the wetlands’ survival.

Photo (top): File photo

Tong Fuk’s last calf dead as car hits two cattle on S. Lantau Rd

Two cattle from the Tong Fuk herd died this morning after being struck by a vehicle on South Lantau Road.

The female and its calf both suffered broken legs and abrasions in the accident, which occured near the old Tung Chung Road turn-off between 6am-7am.

Both were euthanised by AFCD vets at the scene.

The calf was the last born to the Tong Fuk herd prior to the neutering of all of the females.

Most females in other South Lantau herds have also been neutered in recent years as the AFCD, backed by local rural committees, try to aggressively limit and reduce cattle populations.

The driver of the car did not stop at the scene but later filed a report at South Lantau police station. No charges were laid.

Separately, a dog was killed on Tung Chung Rd last night. Altogether animals have died in four fatal accidents on Lantua since the start of summer.

Photos: Lantau Buffalo Association

Mid-Autumn Festival fun: Lantern Riddles

Marcy’s Lantau store in old Mui Wo is holding a mid-autumn riddles evening on Friday.

Lantern Riddles is a very traditional game/ event for Mid Autumn Festival, explains Alison Fung of Marcy’s.

“We are hosting a miniature version of it to brighten up the holiday mood. We’ve got a number of riddles ready in both Chinese and English, attached to the lanterns at the storefront.”

How it works:

Participants will draw five riddles from a box, then try to find them one by one among the lanterns.

Solve any one of the five and receive a surprise gift.

Solve all five and the winner’s name is entered into a community lucky draw.  

When: 5pm-6:30pm October 2

Where: Marcy’s Lantau, 88 Chung Hau Street Mui Wo

More details: Contact Marcy’s via Facebook

Secret plan to build public housing for up to 4000 on Mui Wo school site

The Hong Kong government is planning to build  public housing for as many as 4000 people on the old Mui Wo high school site and the adjacent car park.

The scheme appears to sideline the decade-long Mui Wo Facelift project and threatens to drastically change the character of the village as well as put further strain on transport and parking resources.

The Civil Engineering and Development Department (CEDD) appointed US engineering firm Aecom to conduct a feasibility study in April 2019, but has made no announcements and has not presented it to the district council.

It remained unknown to Lantau residents until it was confirmed in a letter from CEDD assistant director KH Tau last month to Fung Siuyin, a staffer in the office of Eddie Chu and former district council candidate.

The secretive process also points to the potentially conflicted role of Lantau district councillor Randy Yu.

The school, closed since 2007 and officially known as the Mui Wo New Territories Heung Yee Kuk Southern District Secondary School, is part-owned by peak rural body Heung Yee Kuk. Yu is a kuk councillor and his brother-in-law Kenneth Lau is chairman.

Planned new public housing site (inside red circles). Source: CEDD

Yu has declined to respond to queries from Lantau News and local residents about the housing project.

It is not clear what role he has played in the project, whether the school has already been sold, and if so on what terms.

Tom Yam from the Citizens Task Force on Land Resources estimates that with a plot ratio of “about 7,000 to 8,000 sq m, the possible number of housing units can be in the range of 700 to 1,500, giving a population increase of 2,000 to 4,000.”

This would mean twice the population sharing the limited public space and transport services.

“If implemented, the character of Mui Wo will be drastically changed with all the implications on its infrastructure and various public service requirements.”

Fung Siuyin agreed the issues were the excessive scale of the project and the secrecy. She said it was too large a housing project in a small area.

She also questioned why the development would eliminate the village’s new car park, which provides about three-quarters of the parking in the pier area. “This is one of the craziest things about it, ” she said.

She said the lack of consultation excluded other community uses for the site, including primary or pre-school education or elderly care.

Since the school closed down 13 years ago a number of efforts have been made to re-use it. In 2009 a plan by the Education Bureau to lease it out to the Christian Zheng Sheng College for drug rehabilitation fell through after strong opposition from local residents.

Six years ago the bureau entertained offers from several schools, including the Buddhist Fat Ho Memorial School in Tai O, to take over the site, but for some reason it rejected them all.

Fung said an ex-principal of the school had proposed a Mui Wo education project to the bureau recently but had also been rejected. She said she would take this up with bureau officials.

In a letter to Planning Department director Raymond Lee, Yam said he applauded the efforts to convert a vacant school site to public housing.

“The government should have done so much earlier. This is not an objection to develop public housing in Mui Wo. This is a criticism of your planning process and failure to inform/consult the affected community until the community noticed activities in the vacant school and raised the question to CEDD.”

Yam points out that when the Planning Department reviewed vacant school sites across Hong Kong in early 2018 it did not identify the Mui Wo site for conversion to residential use.

Additionally, the Task Force on Land Supply report in February 2018 stressed that the Planning Department “should take into account various planning factors including the planning intention for these sites and the surrounding land uses and environment.”

Aecom, which was awarded an $11 million contract for the feasibility study, is a publicly-listed US firm much favoured by the Hong Kong government for major public works.

Its recent local projects including consultancies for facilities for the HK-Macau bridge border crossing and the Tuen Mun-Chek Lap Kok link, as well as design of the West Kowloon rail terminus.

Real estate body backs Guishan idea with bridge to Lantau

The real estate industry has climbed aboard the Guishan bandwagon, calling for reclamation that it says will house 800,000 and connect to Hong Kong via a bridge to Lantau.

In a report issued this week the Hong Kong Real Property Federation has called for joint development of Guishan and neighbouring islands by Hong Kong and Guangdong governments.

It is echoing calls by pro-government politicians, who have called for the island to be reclaimed for housing, a freight terminal and other commercial uses.

Guishan Port today with Macau in distance (Photo: Zhuhai City Govt)

Guishan is about 4 km off Lantau’s western end, almost in the centre of the Pearl River mouth.

It is a part of Zhuhai city but, like other advocates. the federation calls for it to be leased to Hong Kong in the same way that Hengqin island on the west bank of the estuary is leased to Macau.

The HKRPF study proposes reclaiming Guishan and neighbouring clusters to the east and west, creating a total of 70 sq km that can house 800,000 people.

Guishan and neighbouring islands

As with other advocate, it claims the island will be only a 30-minute ferry ride to Central or Tsim Sha Tsui, both roughly 40 km away. The current 15 km trip between Mui Wo and Central is 30 minutes.

The report says Guishan is the “centre of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area” and is a logical site to re-house the Kwai Chung container terminal, backed by new road and railway connections to Lantau Island.

In a reprise of the ‘super-prison’ idea from the early 2000s, it also recommends shifting Hong Kong jails to Guishan and the current sites used for housing.

Guishan satellite view (Photo: Google Earth)

The group believes Dazhizhou and Xiaozhizhou islands to the southeast can become sites of “cultural innovation” and education, and Qingzhou and Sanjiaoshan to west for “technology and innovation.”

“Guishan Island is the best place to start if we want to develop new industries, attract global talents, improve the living environment of people, and to build greater industrial zones and industrial chains,” it said.

Randy Yu’s wife accused of assaulting helper with hot iron: report

Virginia Lau Yu-lin, the wife of Islands District Council chairman Randy Yu, is under investigation for allegedly assaulting her domestic helper with a hot iron.

Lau, 55, the daughter of late rural kingpin Lau Wong-fat, scalded the 23-year-old helper with a steam iron because she had ironed Yu’s socks before ironing his shirts, according to Apple Daily.

Castle Peak Police Station has confirmed it received a report of a scalding on May 9 and arranged for the victim to be treated at Tuen Mun Hospital on the same day.

Virginia Lau Yu-lin

A short time later, Lau accused the woman, a Cambodian national known as Ah Ling, of stealing items from her home.

The alleged scalding and theft are being investigated by Tuen Mun police. No charges have been laid.

The charge of employer assault of a domestic servant with an appliance carries a penalty of up to three years’ jail time.

Ah Ling told Apple Daily through an interpreter that she started working for Lau in late March after serving two weeks in quarantine.

She said during her employment she was not given any time off, working from 6 am until early morning. Her mobile phone was confiscated during her shift.

According to Apple Daily, on the evening of May 7 Ah Ling said she was ironing several pairs of socks, as instructed by another helper, when Lau entered the room and asked why she was “ironing your socks first?”

Lau took the iron from her hand and gave a demonstration for a few seconds before she suddenly pressed it against Ah Ling’s upper left arm.

Ah Ling said she screamed with pain. Lau told her to finish the ironing and walked out of the room.

Ah Ling’s upper arm after the alleged scalding

The next morning, Ah Ling’s sister persuaded her to take action. An employee of the agency that had engaged Ah Ling went to Lau’s residence and afterwards decided to call the police.

Several days later, Ah Ling received a letter from Lau’s lawyer, accusing her of slandering her and stealing property.

Apple Daily says its reporter was unable to make contact with Lau, and so tracked down Yu after an Islands District Council meeting. Yu denied the allegations and said he suspected the helper had “self-harmed.” He said Ah Ling’s long hours were a result of her working too slowly.

The charge of an employer assaulting a foreign domestic helper depends on how the abuse is carried out and the injury.

If the injury is minor, the charge is common assault or assault causing bodily harm, with a maximum sentence of one year. If an employer uses an appliance to commit an assault, the penalty is up to three years in prison.

Randy Yu has held the Lantau seat in the Islands District Council since 2015. In the wake of the sweeping democrat victory at last November’s district council elections, Yu is now the sole non-democrat among the 18 council chairpersons.

He has been married to Lau since 2002. They have two sons and a daughter.

Virginia Lau (second from left) and Randy Yu on their wedding day

Lau, a fashion designer, created a minor stir at the early stages of the Covid-19 outbreak when she said she and her family were drinking Chinese medicine to ward off the virus.

Her brother Kenneth, who took over the Heung Yee Kuk after their father’s death in 2017, is one of the city’s most powerful politicians, a member of Exco, Legco and the CPPCC.

Prominent businessman charged over alleged Tai Long Wan assault

Prominent Hong Kong and mainland businessman Hui Chi Ming has been charged over an alleged assault of a Tai Long Wan resident.

Hui, 56, a former delegate to  the Chinese People’s Political and Consultative Conference (CPPCC), faces one count of ordinary assault and another of criminal damage over an alleged incident on March 29.

Another man, Chan Ming Leung, 56, has been charged with unlawfully and maliciously wounding Alexander Robert Medd near Tai Long Wan Lot 43, Oriental Daily reported.

The two appeared in West Kowloon Court on Friday. Bail was set at HK$1,000 each and the accused were ordered not to harass witnesses.

The case was adjourned for hearing on September 25.

Hui is chairman of the HKEX-listed Hong Kong Finance Investment Holding Group. He is placed 828th on the Hurun 2020 China rich list with net worth of US$710 million.

In the past two years Hui has acquired a number of properties in the remote Lantau village and is building a private compound surrounded by a 3m high wall.

Photo: Entrance gate at Hui Chi-ming residence, Tai Long Wan

Mui-Wo pop-up market attracts huge interest

Ashleigh Theunissen, the organiser of a Mui Wo pop-up market, says she’s been overwhelmed with interest in the retail event.

Since announcing it on Facebook she says she’s had inquiries from people wanting to sell crafts such as jewellery and fabrics, importers of goods including Kenyan products, and those offering edibles such as scones, jams and cookies.

The market, located next to Pause Cafe (opposite the children’s playground) is planned for September 12-13.

With the high level of interest already shown, Ashleigh is confident she can put on further markets every two weeks.

It’s a small space though, with only room for around 10 stalls, so places will be allocated on a first-come first-serve basis.

Ashleigh, who lives at Tai Tei Tong, said she is setting up the market to provide “something new and exciting” for Lantau on the weekend.

“It also gives people the opportunity to grow their small businesses.”

To become a stallholder, contact Ashleigh for a registration form at muiwomarket@gmail.com.

You can also follow @muiwomarket on Instagram and Facebook.

Police arrest two in $2.8m Lantau permit scam

Lantau driving permits are the unlikely centrepiece of an online scam in which 22 people have been defrauded of HK$2.82 million, police say.

The Cyber Security and Technology Crime Bureau arrested two men this week for allegedly defrauding people by promising to sell them a Lantau Closed Road Permit for HK$9,800.

After victims sent their personal details, the men blackmailed them, in some cases multiple times, by threatening to to post their information online, Sing Tao reported.

They also made multiple “get rich quick” social media posts promising to help people invest in Bitcoin and offering gambling tips for Macau. “Hundreds of thousands is not a dream,” one post said.

The 22 victims included students and professionals and ranged in age from 16 to 56 years old. The total sums gained from the Lantau driver permit frauds totalled approximately HK$100,000.

The largest single fraud involved a Bitcoin and a sum of HK$2.5 million, HK01 reported.

The two suspects, a 36-year-old man from Wong Tai Sin and a 38-year-old from Wanchai, have been charged with obtaining property by deception.

Hiker dies after 15m Lantau canyon fall

A man died and a woman was seriously injured after falling 15m on the Wong Lung Hang Stream in north Lantau yesterday.

The 48-year-old man was unconscious when he was airlifted to Pamela Youde Nethersole Hospital at Chai Wan but was pronounced dead at 3pm.

The man, surnamed Luk, and the 41-year-old woman, named Tsim, had been part of a party of seven or eight people planning to hike the popular but challenging trail, Apple Daily reported.

The accident took place at around 1:30pm., when Luk slipped and collided with Tsim, causing both to fall.

Tsim was also airlifted to hospital with head and facial injuries.

It is the fourth accidental death on Lantau this year and the second hiker fatality. A 64-year-old woman died near the Tsing Lung Hang stream below Sunset Peak in April.

(Photo: Government Flying Service)