Villagers win reprieve from eviction
A woman and her adult son who have lived in a Fanling village for 30 years have won a reprieve from eviction after the High Court yesterday granted an injunction against an eviction notice issued by Henderson Land.
Tang Ho-hing, 55, and her son Lai Yuen-cheung, 32, live on land formerly owned by relatives who used to live next door. Henderson bought the land from the relatives, who have since migrated overseas, in November 2005 and signed a contract with Tang on January 12, 2006, allowing the pair to continue living in the house for another six months before handing over the property.
Tang and her son are among 40 households refusing to move, despite their contracts expiring years ago. Yesterday marked the government's second attempt to clear the house after villagers' protests foiled the first attempt, in November.
Victor Wong Wing-cheung, assistant property manager at Henderson, said its representatives had tried to discuss the matter with Tang several times. 'Today is the last straw,' Wong said. 'We even offered to pay HK$30,000 to help them move.'
Tang, who is illiterate, accuses the property developer of taking advantage of her ignorance. When she signed the 2006 contract she was not told what the terms were, she said, but did so anyway as she trusted her relatives to know best.
Lai yesterday obtained an injunction to stop bailiffs reclaiming the land. Tang and Henderson representatives will meet in court next Wednesday to decide if the contract is valid. Tang appealed on Monday and the hearing is set for February 29.
A Henderson spokeswoman said: 'Tang has already been granted public housing but chosen not to move out. She sought legal aid in November but was rejected, and has just put in her appeal, so we will discuss how to go about this [in court].'
Henderson bought over 150 homes in Ma Shi Po to co-develop a new-town project with the government. One of 10 major infrastructure projects unveiled in October 2008, the planned town covers Fanling North, Kwu Tung North in Sheung Shui and Ta Kwu Ling. Henderson has secured vacant possession of 110 homes. Wong said the land would most likely be used for housing and construction would start in 2016.
Despite the payout on offer, Tang said it was not about the money. 'There are still another four years before Henderson... begins its construction as the government still needs to complete the third phase of a public consultation. So why can't Henderson allow us villagers to stay until development begins?'