Squatters' signed deal 'not legally binding'

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 18 November, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 18 November, 2000, 12:00am

Representatives of squatters in Diamond Hill said yesterday an agreement they signed with the Housing Department saying they would move out of their homes after the Lunar New Year was not legally binding.

The representatives, who signed papers with the department on Thursday night, said the residents had not formally authorised them to sign.

'We believe the agreement is not legally binding because we can't speak for all the villagers,' said Diamond Hill Squatter Clearance Concern Group spokesman Ho Kim-ching. He said they signed to 'buy time' and allow those who wanted to go to do so peacefully.

The Housing Department delayed its demolition plan on Tuesday after protests. It then planned to let the villagers stay until the end of the Lunar New Year holiday in exchange for a pledge they would leave after the deadline.

Mr Ho said 160 of 516 households voted to accept the department's proposal, 40 abstained, and the remainder failed to attend the general meeting.

'The agreement therefore represents only part of the villagers,' Mr Ho said.

Law Kwan-charn, spokesman for the Diamond Hill Squatter Village Business Group, said the Government must give the businesses a higher removal allowance, but a department spokeswoman said it had been as flexible as it could.

Businesses affected can claim a removal allowance up to $10,000.