Hawker challenges developer in stand-off

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 18 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 18 February, 2012, 12:00am


A hawker wants HK$5 million compensation from a company that wants to redevelop a Central building, the Court of First Instance heard yesterday.

Licensed hawker Kwok Chi-yin, 76, said her demand was reasonable because the redevelopment plan meant she had to halt a family business that her grandfather started some 60 years ago.

Kwok, who sells cigarettes and drinks, defended her stand as Chinachem subsidiary Grand Monrovia Enterprises sought to apply for an injunction to force her to move from Wing On Life Building, at the junction of Des Voeux Road Central and Theatre Lane.

But the injunction application was dropped yesterday after Kwok promised the court she would move her stall within a month, on the condition that she reserve the right to claim compensation.

Grand Monrovia said it incurred more than HK$4 million in losses for every month the redevelopment works were stalled. Its lawyers told the court that they took legal action after she refused to move for more than half a year.

'[Kwok] has been asking for compensation,' they said. 'She asked for HK$5 million, which is an amount we cannot agree to.'

Kwok's daughter Lee Wai-ling said in court: 'This is a huge company bullying and oppressing a small resident. There will be no justice if the injunction is allowed.'

The company obtained permission from the government to redevelop Wing On Life Building, the court heard. The redevelopment work is expected to end in February 2014.

According to court documents, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department asked Kwok to leave by the end of September, but she failed to comply.

In January, the developer sent a lawyers' letter requiring her to stop trespassing in the area and to remove an electricity box mounted on the wall of the building.

The department also reserved a place next to an exit of Central train station for Kwok to continue her business, but she refused to budge, the court heard.

Kwok's stall location was designated by the government, the court heard.