Renewal authority may sue over 'faked' newsletter

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 May, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 May, 2006, 12:00am

The Urban Renewal Authority is considering legal action against an independent publisher after allegations that false information was published in the authority's newsletter on a Kwun Tong redevelopment.

The authority said yesterday it seemed street interviews, supposedly quoting Kwun Tong residents, had been 'based on incorrect information'. Doubts are understood to have been expressed whether eight people whose quotes and pictures appeared in the first issue of the newsletter in April were in fact Kwun Tong residents or workers as they were claimed to be.

The authority refused to identify the publication house, which it said was responsible for interviews, write-ups, photography, design, printing and distribution of the bulletin in the once-seedy factory district now undergoing a facelift.

Two interviewees, a Miss Poon and a Miss Hung, refused to say where they lived when contacted by the South China Morning Post, but Miss Poon said she is a journalism student at Tsuen Wan's Chu Hai College of Higher Education.

A newspaper vendor quoted in the article, who was alleged to have a business in Tsuen Wan, not Kwun Tong, could not be reached.

'We are very concerned about this allegation and are now conducting a full investigation,' the authority said in a statement. 'We ... would not allow any misleading and incorrect information to be published in the bulletin.'

But it refused to release more information, such as the tendering process, the contract and the name of the publishing company on the ground of pending legal action.

Civic Party legislator Alan Leong Kah-kit said the incident and the authority's reaction were 'unacceptable'. He demanded the authority release all relevant information. 'Everything carried by a newsletter must be genuine,' he said. 'No one should fake any information. It is totally unacceptable. The authority must explain what happened and what went wrong.' He said he was doing a study on Kwun Tong's future. 'I have had no difficulty getting Kwun Tong residents and business people talking to me. I don't understand how the blunder happened,' he said.

The authority plans to issue the bulletin every two to three months to keep residents informed of the authority's moves on the redevelopment. It printed 30,000 copies of the first issue.

The eight interviewees were described as living or working in Kwun Tong. Six expressed impatience with the district's run-down condition, hoping the redevelopment would improve living conditions and business opportunities.

A newspaper vendor worried it might affect his business and another hoped the government would consult sufficiently.

The Kwun Tong renewal is the city's biggest redevelopment project. The authority estimates it will cost $25 billion and take 10 years. It will affect 23 buildings and 1,635 property rights.