Officials must talk to villagers

Violence seems to be unavoidable whenever there is a government rehousing programme and there always seems to be a controversy over compensation payments.

On November 16, violence erupted again in Shek Wu San Tsuen as government bulldozers tried to move in to clear the village for redevelopment. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured.

I do not think the villagers should have resorted to violence when they clashed with police, although I can understand such a violent reaction. Their homes and shops were being demolished. Let me ask readers - if your home was about to be cleared and you were forced to leave, how would you feel? If the compensation payments are indeed insufficient, then this would easily have exacerbated the situation.

It was inevitable that the level of resistance would be raised when the demolition of the homes began, as the villagers probably felt helpless in the face of armed police officers.

What is needed now is for effective channels of communication to be opened up between villagers and government officials and there should be discussion about giving those who have lost homes and shops, adequate compensation packages.

The Government should try and understand the villagers' needs and make the appropriate arrangements to meet those needs.