Lawmakers warn of strife over cottage clearance

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 June, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 06 June, 2000, 12:00am

Lawmakers warned last night that their relationship with the administration would take a turn for the worse if a plan to demolish a cottage area in Wong Tai Sin without paying compensation was not dropped.

The warning came from Democrat Lee Wing-tat, chairman of Legco's housing panel, after officials from the Housing Department and Housing Bureau turned a deaf ear to the opposition.

'We will give you a last chance to reverse your decision at our next meeting on June 19. Let me repeat it again - if the result still remains negative, our relationship with the Government is set to become very bad,' he said.

Cottage areas were used as a measure to relieve the pressure from the influx of mainlanders in the 1950s. The migrants were allowed to build their homes on government land. There are almost 3,000 people living in four cottage areas in Tung Tau, Lai Chi Kok, Mount Davis and So Kon Po. The Government intends to clear the area at Tung Tau Estate next month.

At the end of the meeting, lawmakers endorsed a motion moved by Chan Yuen-han, of the Confederation of Trade Unions, urging the Government to freeze the clearance plan and demanding reasonable compensation for the residents.

Earlier, officials angered members with their justification for rejecting a proposal to pay a special, ex gratia allowance to the residents, who are to be offered public rental housing flats.

'As a matter of principle, using public funds for a special ex gratia allowance to cottage areas residents is undesirable,' Housing Department business director Lau Kai-hung said. Housing Bureau assistant secretary Gary Au said: 'It would be irresponsible for us to use the public coffers in such a way. We have no legal basis to talk about compensation.' Protesters affected by plans to redevelop North Point Estate surrounded Mr Lau outside the Legislative Council building, forcing police to come to his aid. He left the scene in a police van.


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