Clashes with residents could have been avoided

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 August, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 August, 1996, 12:00am

I refer to the angry clashes which occurred in Rennie's Mill on July 30, when several protesters and policemen were needlessly injured.

It was inevitable that the squatter accommodation at Rennie's Mill would be demolished to make way for residential re-development.

Most of the residents were offered compensation and re-located.

The demonstration was led by a group of residents who had received compensation and moved out. The Housing Authority recently announced that further compensation would be offered to those who had been re-located if they were eligible and met the requirement of having resided at Rennie's Mill on or before 1961.

With the prospect of further compensation they returned to stage a protest.

By contrast, some 82 households sensibly selected a peaceful way, through court, of airing their dissatisfaction with the compensation offer put forward by the Housing Authority.

It was eventually ruled during a judicial review at the end of June that the compensation offer proposed by the Housing Authority was unfair and those households had a legal right to negotiate reasonable compensation with the authority.

They therefore did not participate in the demonstration. However, those protesters who were expecting further compensation as announced by the authority staged the demonstration.

I was surprised by the authority's further compensation scheme announcement, as the residents concerned had already accepted re-location.

The remaining residents had been given a two-week grace period to move out.

The riot police should have been forewarned of this by the Housing Authority and told not to go into Rennie's Mill.

However, no such arrangement was made and the riot police still proceeded to try and mount the barricades set up at village entrance points. I considered that the clashes could have been avoided if the mission was well-planned.

I hope the authority will take a positive attitude towards the compensation grievances of the 82 households.