Tear down illegal Sai Kung wall

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 15 October, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 15 October, 2011, 12:00am


Walls are meant to divide and protect - the very reasons that a three-storey-high barrier has been built on land in Sai Kung to separate a village house and a burial ground. For practitioners of fung shui, the metal structure on a concrete base keeps at bay whatever is lurking on the other side, literally and figuratively. But whatever benefits its owners perceive it to bring, on one matter there is no question: it was built without government approval and is therefore illegal and must come down. Authorities have to ensure that the law is respected and that is best done by enforcement.

More than six weeks have passed since a Buildings Department deadline for the wall's demolition expired, but it still stands. Since the order was issued in May, the owners planted palm trees on the house side of the wall - an indication that they have no intention of abiding by the law. Authorities should step in and, if the owner is still not willing to take the illegal structure down, do it themselves.

The wall is, after all, an exceedingly visible example of the widespread disregard in the New Territories for laws against illegal structures.

While the owner of the land may see the wall as a necessity, to passers-by it is first a curiosity, but most obviously a blot on the landscape, if not a threat to public safety, particularly during a storm. Its removal would send a clear and highly visible message about an issue that has been long ignored.

A crackdown on illegal structures is now under way across Hong Kong, notwithstanding resistance from indigenous villagers in the New Territories. Rural communities are prone to putting up a fight where their interests are concerned. But what applies to one part of our city has to apply to all, fung shui walls included. The law has to be followed, no matter what the arguments.