Kuk to rally against housing crackdown

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 24 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 24 April, 2012, 12:00am


Rural affairs body the Heung Yee Kuk is organising a rally next month to solicit support from urban residents for its fight to retain illegal housing structures in the New Territories.

At a kuk meeting yesterday, Leung Fuk-yuen, chairman of the Shap Pat Heung Rural Committee, said he expected 10,000 villagers would turn up for the May 23 rally in Chater Garden, Central, against a government crackdown on illegal structures which took effect this month.

'The assembly will serve as some civic education for other Hongkongers so they will sympathise with our situation,' said Leung, who leads a kuk taskforce against the crackdown.

As part of a new policy which was enacted on April 1, buildings officers will issue demolition notices for 'severe' breaches of building rules - including homes higher than the standard three storeys.

The crackdown has also seen the introduction of a register of homes with minor violations of building rules. These homes will be allowed to remain, subject to safety checks.

'We will have history professors explaining that it is our right, not a privilege, to build a small house,' said Leung, whose own illegal use of government land in a Yuen Long country park for his commercial recreation park business was highlighted by the Audit Commission last week.

Leung said a demonstration at the Legislative Council or at the government headquarters in Admiralty would follow the rally.

The rally would be peaceful, he said, with villagers talking about the difficulties they would face if forced to demolish their illegal housing structures. They have no money to do so and would have to move out, according to Leung.

'Some are also worried that once they register their illegal structures, they will face uncertainties when they sell their houses because buyers may cancel the transactions, and banks may not approve mortgages for the buyers,' he said.

The twenty-seven rural committees that constitute the kuk planned the rally, said Leung, adding kuk chairman Lau Wong-fat 'had no views'. Lau, who attended yesterday's meeting, declined to comment.

The rally will be the third gathering of villagers against the crackdown since its announcement last year.

In June, hundreds of villagers protested outside the Legislative Council. The kuk later staged another assembly outside its headquarters, with some supporters burning effigies of Development Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor.

Au Choi-kai, director of the buildings department, has called on villagers to comply with the housing registration system; the department says it has received some registrations.