Don't forget real victims of flats scandal

PUBLISHED : Monday, 06 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 September, 2012, 10:55am

The news media has a field day exposing the scandal over subdivided flats involving the family of development chief Paul Chan Mo-po. The government has gone into damage-control mode. Chan and his wife are busy trying to salvage his political career. But in the middle of the mayhem, we have lost sight of the people who have been victimised by the whole fiasco, the low-income tenants and their families who rent the subdivided flats.

The eight individuals or families are the innocent bystanders who have paid an honest rent but now find themselves with less than a month before being evicted. They have been harmed by the media juggernaut and are receiving little or no help from anyone. Quite the contrary.

Chan's family has issued a legal letter to take back the flats in less than a month. Local media have acted like it is their God-given right to invade those people's homes with little respect for their privacy and dignity. The main tenant who was responsible for subleasing the flats said he would compensate them, but he didn't say when or how much. And who's following the case to make sure the subtenants receive payment?

The tenants have been paying a reasonable rent at market rate and the condition of the flats appears to be acceptable. In this high-rent environment, they face an uncertain future with no guarantee of comparable accommodation.

Their predicament is a sad reflection on our social ecology. The local press fancies itself the guardian of democracy and the public interest by riding roughshod over these little guys. The new government under Leung Chun-ying has vowed to tackle the substandard living environment of many poor families, including the problem of unsafe and unhygienic subdivided flats. Yet officials have not lifted a finger to help these people.

Assistance should be extended to make sure they have a stress-free relocation and that they find decent accommodation. In this tug of war between the government and its opponents, let's not trample on the little guys. Let's try to be decent.