Anson Chan urged to step into land resumption row
Chief Secretary for Administration Anson Chan Fang On-sang was urged to mediate in a land resumption dispute between officials and a group of Tsuen Wan factory operators.
The plea from legislators came as an expected showdown between owners of factory units at the Wah Kai Industrial Centre and the Lands Department failed to materialise yesterday. Officials decided not to seize the premises immediately the removal date expired on Tuesday.
Some of the 150 remaining owners of the building, which is scheduled to be handed over to West Rail for demolition next month, have threatened to commit suicide if the authorities proceed with the eviction.
Legislator Lee Wing-tat said the row exposed the 'bureaucratic' nature of the Government and its failure to be flexible in handling delicate issues such as compensation for those affected by large public works projects.
'The factory unit owners are only asking for slightly better compensation, the amount of which is smaller than the accumulated expenses incurred due to delays on the West Rail project, but both the Lands Department and West Rail still refused to make a concession,' he said. 'As a result, we will propose in the House Committee on Friday that Mrs Chan should be invited to intervene.' Mr Lee said the delays in releasing compensation were mostly due to the reluctance of solicitors to confirm the unit owners' claims, and the Government could ease such fears by acting as underwriters.
He proposed that bridging loans, which will only be available when the Urban Renewal Authority comes into being later this year, be released to the factory unit owners to enable them to start up again as soon as possible.
The department declined to comment on the legislators' demand, but said factory unit owners unhappy with their compensation must first accept temporary payments and then file their claims with the Lands Tribunal. It insisted the clearing operation would be carried out this week.