The Housing Society wants to build flats on the mainland as it searches for a new role amid declining demand for public housing, its chief said yesterday. Chairman Chung Shui-ming said the role of the society, a statutory body with a $20 billion reserve and which produced about 2,000 subsidised flats last year, was diminishing. 'We need to explore new niches and have always managed to do so in the face of major government policy changes,' he said. 'An increasing number of SAR citizens are moving to live in Guangdong and we realise the good potential of the mainland property market, which promises a lot of opportunities. 'From a certain perspective, we are also a developer. There is no reason we can't participate in China's private property development as others do.' Mr Chung said the scheme would be run in co-operation with private developers because the society lacked experience. It had already held talks with some private developers, although details had not been worked out. The plan was revealed four days after the Government imposed a 10-month sales freeze on more than 12,000 subsidised flats in a series of measures to boost the ailing property market. The sale of two Housing Society projects in Tuen Mun and Tseung Kwan O with 1,600 flats was also suspended. Mr Chung said that although the society would prefer to sell only to Hong Kong citizens, mainland laws would make it difficult to forbid mainlanders. The society would only invest $1 billion in mainland projects and would continue to focus its services on Hong Kong, especially projects for the elderly. Mr Chung said there was no question of the society folding as it could find other ways of serving the public. It recently hired 200 employees after it won three property management contracts to manage eight public housing estates. The Democrats have proposed installing computer 'kiosks' in lobbies of Housing Authority estates to allow up to three million residents to conduct electronic transactions. Lawmaker Sin Chung-kai, a Housing Authority member who represents the information technology sector, said it would also boost the authority's transparency by allowing complaints and inquiries to be lodged online. The proposal will be outlined to the Housing Authority's finance committee meeting tomorrow.