I AM very disappointed with the Buildings Department and the police, with regard to the demonstration by some Tsuen Wan rooftop dwellers on December 14. This was not a case of a disturbance of traffic or a disruption of social order (though I admit some inevitable inconvenience was caused) and it also was not the self-interested action of a few people. What this case reflected was the bureaucratic attitude of government departments and the ignorance of basic human rights of police officers, our maintainers of 'law and order'. A Buildings Department official explained that the demolition of rooftop dwellings was for safety and security reasons, claiming that the rooftop squatters blocked the way of escape in case of fire. There may be some truth in this, but it was only partial truth. The legal status of rooftop squatters has been ambiguous for years. Because of the Government's confusion over policy, a certain tolerance has been shown towards them. Different government departments have different policies and attitudes - the Rating and Valuation Department, the Fire Services Department, the Housing Department, and the Buildings Department. The Housing Department refused the application for public housing for some rooftop dwellers, because it saw the squatters as legal property-holders. But the Buildings Department carried out the demolition and penalised the squatters. Because department policies contradict each other, rooftop dwellers find themselves being misled and they are confused about what is happening. Readers would be wrong to think that this is just a matter of 24 households in Cheuk Ming House and Tak Yan House. In a meeting of the Housing Affairs Committee of the Legislative Council this year, it was estimated that out of a total of 70,000 blocks of buildings, 40,000 blocks had rooftop structures of some kind. Just climb to a high floor of a building in Tsuen Wan, Shamshuipo and Mongkok and you can see for yourself how many households are living 'on top'. Perhaps, it is because there are so many, that the Government is unwilling to take responsibility, in terms of compensation and resettlement. Working in the name of 'safety and security' with low cost demolition, because of this past ambiguity and contradiction in different departments, the Government feels it can deny having any responsibility in relation to these people. What is needed is an urgent investigation, so that the territory's rooftop population can be surveyed and registered and resettlement can be implemented. However, the Buildings Department has refused to do this. What a pity that government officials keep administration costs to the minimum at the expense of the rooftop dwellers. These rooftop homes may not seem like much, but given crazily soaring urban rents and limited public housing, at least they are places where people can live. Official resettlement policy is unreasonable. The Buildings Department will only house those who have sufficient evidence to prove they lived in their dwellings before June 1, 1982. There is no justification for this cut-off date. Owners have paid tens of thousands of dollars for their rooftop homes and yet the Government will treat them just the same as other homeless people and resettle them in some remote temporary housing just because they lived in their rooftop homes for no more than 12 years. This resettlement policy is unreasonable. Thousands of rooftop people will share the same fate as those in the Cheuk Ming and Tak Yan buildings, but at the cost of being arrested by police and perhaps being accused of being too radical. How about the silent ones? How will they be heard? The Buildings Department has been intransigent in its attitude, seeing no room for a negotiated settlement. And in the December 14 demonstration, from the news footage I saw, I believe the police acted with undue force. These rooftop dwellers are victims, fighting for survival.