Inside Tsoi Yuen Village, the heart of the Hong Kong railway controversy

Inside Tsoi Yuen Village, the heart of the Hong Kong railway controversy

The Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong express railway will run right through Tsoi Yuen Village if Legco passes the proposal. Here, the villagers tell us about their plight

The proposed HK$67 billion Hong Kong railway project, the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong express railway, made recent headlines as dramatic protests were staged outside the Legislative Council Building while lawmakers debated the rail project inside.

Amongst the voices against the high-speed rail link are the Tsoi Yuen Village Concern Group and the Tsoi Yuen Village residents themselves who face relocation if Legco votes to go ahead with the rail project. The 26 kilometre rail linking Hong Kong to China's high-speed national rail network is currently mapped to pass right through the village of more than 150 households.

CNNGo visited Tsoi Yuen Village to meet the residents and document their way of life, which will potentially disappear in the very near future.

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Banners of support from various anti-rail project groups are hung at the entrance to Tsoi Yuen Village.

 

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Mr Tse, a 49-year-old shipping worker, is not against the development of Hong Kong: “But sacrificing our way of life is too much to bear. We are simple people and our living requirements are simple. This home is all we have and they want to take it away from us.”

 

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Rural homes are much more spacious than those in the city. Many of the villagers are elderly and are worried that their physical and mental health will be affected by a relocation.

 

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The two-story Yip family home, named “Yip Garden,” was built by 95-year-old Mr Yip (left) who bought the land in the late 1950s. With the help of his son (right), the family home was completed within a decade. It is the retirement home for both father and son and a Yip family sanctuary for generations to come.

 

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Mrs Tse and her neighbours prepare dinner together. Many of the villagers grew up together, retaining a strong sense of community throughout their lives.

 

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A large part of the villagers’ diet consists of plants from their own gardens, which include domestic and exotic fruits and vegetables.

 

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In November 2008, this notice was erected beside a path in Tsoi Yuen Village. It was the only formal notice given to villagers about their probable relocation.

 

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Mrs Giu looks at old photos of her children and grandchildren playing in her Tsoi Yuen Village home. Many villagers have lived here all their lives and brought up several generations on the same land.

 

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The Wong family has been living in Tsoi Yuen Village for over 40 years. Three generations of the family gathers in front of a broadcast of the Legco debates on the express rail link.

 

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Mr Wong and his wife enjoy watching the sunset from their garden every evening. Wong finds it unimaginable for him to move away from the village and have his family broken up.

Tsoi Yuen Village

Exit Kam Sheung Road MTR station, then catch the 77K KMB to Vegetable Station (called 'shek kong choi tsaam' in Cantonese).

Derrick Chang is a Canadian photojournalist based in Hong Kong. His work has appeared in Time, the New York Times, CNNGo, Huffington Post, and other Asian media outlets. He enjoys hiking from one mountain village to another, waiting for the golden light and dining on street food.

Read more about Derrick Chang