Officials do nothing about illegal structures in New Territories

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 28 November, 2015, 12:16am
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 November, 2015, 12:15am

In the Legislative Council, Dennis Kwok Wing-hang raised the long-running problem of the government’s inaction on the New Territories small-house policy, saying that continuing to ignore this issue was not an option. I disagree.

I think it will continue ignoring it for the reason we all know it does; fear of upsetting the all-powerful Heung Yee Kuk. Even on the seemingly easier issue of illegal structures in the New Territories, Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and other officials have backed down from all their tough talk in 2013.

I was naive enough then to register my modest, but illegal, roll-back canopy structure in the government’s registration scheme that allowed such items to fall under their second round of enforcement. Since then I have not seen one structure in the area removed. In fact many more have been built, including some very luxurious whole flats.

There is even the added incentive that no rates are paid on these new residences worth millions of dollars but constructed for less than the price of stamp duty.

So while I appreciate Mr Kwok’s efforts to push for progress and fairness, I think it is in vain, as in response to his question, Secretary for Development Paul Chan Mo-po reminded us “ there is a need to maintain a balance between the rights of indigenous villagers and the overall interests of the community”.

Obviously this translates to “illegal structures in the New Territories will not be removed” and if you are an indigenous male, you and your sons will continue to receive your winning Mark Six tickets; you can even pop back from your homes in London or Vancouver to collect them.

This is the “balance” Mr Chan and his overpaid colleagues feel pressured to maintain if they want to continue riding their own gravy train.

John Andrews, Lamma