Compensation hope for home-owners
Executive Council convenor Leung Chun-ying has agreed to look into property transactions involving homes built on government land that has been slated for clearance.
Mr Leung met a group of home-owners yesterday in a move that could prompt senior government officials to reconsider the issue of possible compensation.
Two thousand occupants of the homes or cottages, built in the early 1950s, face eviction by next year.
The eviction threat comes after a pledge in 1997 by Tung Chee-hwa to clear all five cottage areas in Tung Tau, Mount Davis, So Kon Po, Lai Chi Kok and Rennie's Mill.
A landmark court ruling in June 1996 saw the Government pay out upwards of $500 million to residents of Rennie's Mill, a former stronghold of ex-Kuomintang soldiers.
Others were allowed to live in Housing Department-managed cottage areas because they were mostly mainland migrants from the civil war and victims of hillside squatter fires.
The head of the Hong Kong Area Cottage Association, Lee Wai-keung, said Mr Leung asked to see proof of the value of their homes by providing details of recent property transactions.
'We had to spend $3,000, which was more than 30 months of the average salary at the time, to build our own home,' Mr Lee said.
'We even had to pay to build our own water pipes and to connect electricity.
'The Government did nothing but wanted to treat us like public flat tenants. That is not fair.' Half of those who met Mr Leung yesterday came from Tung Tau's Pui Man Tsuen, which has more than 100 households, 60 per cent of which comprised elderly people who have been living there since the early 1950s.
The flats they spent about $3,000 to build almost 50 years ago, averaging 200 square feet in size, are now estimated to be worth $700 a square foot.
A Housing Bureau spokesman said since the occupants had no legal land title, the Government could only offer ex-gratia payments of about $2,000 a person.