Housing groups to stage noisy protests

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 18 May, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 18 May, 1996, 12:00am

A $4 million public relations effort by the Housing Authority is to be hit by noisy demonstrations.

One hundred and fifty experts from 18 countries will be in Hong Kong on Monday to join 400 local academics at Asia's biggest housing conference.

But grassroots groups have criticised the conference - which will cost the authority $4.1 million and run from Monday to Thursday - as 'apple-polishing' rather than a bid to find ways to improve the plight of cagemen and squatters.

Some have warned of radical protests outside conference venues to present 'the true picture' of housing problems while others plan to lead the delegates on tours of cagehomes and rooftop huts.

'The department cannot gag us,' said Hong Kong People's Council on Public Housing Policy chief executive Virginia Ip Chiu-ping.

'There is no pointing having a conference if participants are blinded from the true situation.' In a bid to pacify grassroots groups, the authority has agreed to invite representatives to attend some seminars, while booths will be set up for them outside venues.

'We are reviewing the programme to see if there is time to let participants visit temporary housing areas or cagehomes,' said Housing Department assistant director Poon Kai-tik.

Authority member Professor Yeung Yue-man, of Chinese University, said there had been no intention to exclude grassroots views, but the conference was supposed to be academic and professional.