Last chance on cash offer for Walled City dwellers
DEFIANT former Kowloon Walled City householders who have refused government cash offers face losing their chance for more compensation in five weeks.
The remaining 26 families or business operators, who have refused to discuss the offers with the Government, have until May 31 to lodge their appeals. They have been offered a total of $17 million.
The Government has warned that further extension of the deadline will not be possible and that late appeals will not be considered.
Compensation negotiations began eight years ago after London and Beijing reached an agreement to clear the condemned homes of 10,000 families.
The project was completed three years ago and a Walled City Park is being built on the site.
Some diehard protesters are still camping outside the site to protest against what they consider insufficient compensation. They vow to stay put until more money is paid.
Protesters' representative Cheng Shing-shi, who has lived on the streets and in a temporary shelter since being evicted four years ago, said: 'The Government grabbed our properties and it must pay us enough compensation.
'A hawker sells his oranges at $10 each. Can you just give him 50 cents and then tell him to appeal to you if he thinks it is unfair?' The Government's special committee overseeing the clearance project has planned a meeting with the protesters for April 27. But Mr Cheng said they would boycott it.
The committee's chairman Leung Wai-tung said the ad hoc group could consider disbanding itself in two months.
Ms Leung said: 'Our job has largely been completed and there is no point keeping a team of civil servants to serve us if we actually have nothing to do.' A Home Affairs Department spokesman said: 'We allow the protesters to collect the money first and lodge appeals later if they are not satisfied. But they do not exercise their rights.' Workers are putting the finishing touches to the $60 million Walled City Park, which is to be opened early next year.
The park, which won the Architectural Services Department several design awards in overseas competitions, features pavilions, winding galleries, rockeries and fountains.
The park will also house some of the relics of the Walled City, including a Yamen (the district office and courtroom in the Qing Dynasty), old wells and stone paths.