Like most residents of the New Territories, I welcome the government's initiative to set up a new department to investigate what has become known in the media as unauthorised structures. New Territories residents know this to be a euphemism for "essential home improvements".
In the hope that Hong Kong taxpayers receive maximum value from the reported HK$40 million budget, I respectfully suggest that the inspectors add one or two further items to their, no doubt, very narrow brief.
If the inspectors visit by public transport, as indeed they should, and given that there is no available parking in NT villages, they should allow an extra hour at least to complete their journey.
This is because the green minibuses that serve NT villages are already unable to cope with the increased demand that the rise in village house construction has brought, and which the government has perpetrated by dishing out countless thousands of building permits.
Should the inspectors arrive on a rainy day, they should wear wellingtons, as most village roads do not have surface-water drainage. Residents, as the inspectors will discover, get wet feet when walking to the minibus stop every time it rains.
Some form of smelling salts or other sweet-scented product would be helpful to offset the stench of the rat-infested open sewers that run through almost all villages. The wellingtons would be of additional use should an inspector happen to inadvertently fall into one of these open sewers.
Perhaps the inspectors could link up with that other totally ineffective government department - Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation - to do something about the rapidly increasing and uncontrolled canine population. It would not stretch their brief all that much to check whether these dogs are registered and microchipped at the homes they visit.
My own estimate indicates that fewer than 10 per cent of village dogs are registered, but for some strange reason the agriculture and fisheries staff are seldom seen in the villages unless an official complaint has been made. Even when this does happen, a follow-up call almost always yields the response that the inspectors were unable to see any dogs when they turned up, which is normally around the middle of the day, when the dogs have eaten and are asleep in the shade.
Those wellingtons would once again come in handy in the event the inspectors inadvertently step on one of the numerous deposits left by the said canines.
We look forward to welcoming the inspectors to the village!
Richard Castka, Tai Po