Watchdog's anger at officials
THE ombudsman yesterday took the extraordinary step of using an international conference to criticise the Government after a group of rooftop dwellers sought to embarrass officials.
Commissioner for Administrative Complaints Andrew So Kwok-wing expressed regret the Government refused to accept all his recommendations on unauthorised building works in a report that found its demolition policy was unfair.
Mr So's comments were made before 40 delegates at the opening of the Australasian and Pacific Ombudsman Conference in Hong Kong.
A group of rooftop dwellers from Tsuen Wan presented petitions at a ceremony on Sunday in a bid to shame the Government and highlight what they consider to be weaknesses in the local administrative complaints system.
While the ombudsman's investigative efforts and recommendations had been appreciated, their letter said, government departments could 'just listen to what he says and do nothing'.
The dwellers, a group of about 50 helped by Tsuen Wan Ecumenical Social Service Centre organiser Pamela Ng Siu-ming, complained the demolitions were unfair and there was not a proper rehousing plan.
Mr So told delegates they had 'witnessed me in action' on Sunday when the petition was presented over his report and recommendations.
'Unfortunately, the Government has not been able to accept all of them and this is why the petitioners were dissatisfied,' he said.
The Commissioner reported to Governor Chris Patten on the issue, an unprecedented step he took in April over the Building Department's 'inadequate response'.
Mr So's report found clearing operations had made families homeless while some empty and illegal structures in wealthier areas were not touched.