Eddie Chu clearly needs to find a new home, just not inside Legco

Lo Oiling says the threats faced by the newly elected lawmaker are real, but not only is living in the complex illegal, it could compromise his police protection

PUBLISHED : Monday, 12 September, 2016, 4:25pm
UPDATED : Monday, 12 September, 2016, 7:46pm

Legislative Council Secretary General Kenneth Chen Wei-on had better beware. Newly elected lawmaker Eddie Chu Hoi-dick is talking about making an office home in the Legco complex. Yes, an office home, not a home office.

Under round-the-clock police protection following death threats, the veteran activist wants to move into the complex with his family to ensure their personal safety. He wants to work, eat and sleep there.

‘Normal life’ might be elusive, Hong Kong legislator-elect Eddie Chu says after death threats

This is a new issue for the council; it’s the first time an elected member has wanted to live inside the building since the introduction of elections in 1985.

First and foremost, the complex is built for office purposes, on a piece of government land. In strict land lease terms, “government, institution and community facilities” are not for residential use. To make a Legco office a residence certainly constitutes a breach of the lease terms. Chu is an advocate of land justice. What is perplexing is that he seems to have forgotten the land use conditions.

To make a Legco office a residence certainly constitutes a breach of the lease terms

And who says the complex is a safe place to live? The legislature is not a place where police officers can move freely. They need prior approval from the secretariat to enter. Chu is now under police protection. Should the officers on duty also be allowed to work, eat and sleep inside the complex?

If Chu does put words into action, what should the secretary general do? A new Legco commission has yet to form following the election and so the secretary general might have to count on former president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing for instruction. But the fact remains: it’s illegal to reside inside the complex. The only way to make the illegal legal is for the council to apply for a change in the conditions of the current land lease. To go through Town Planning Board procedures, alas, would take a long time.

Eddie Chu spreading ‘white terror’ with talk of death threats, Yuen Long rural leader claims

It’s sad to see a fighter for justice not being able to return home or ensure his own and his family’s safety in a safe city like Hong Kong. The threat is real. He must be desperate.

A viable option is for Chu to make good use of his new monthly salary

But being an elected representative is not a privilege. If a partitioned flat inside an industrial building is illegal, so is an office home inside the Legco complex. Some people are more equal, we know. Legislator “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung receives a monthly salary of HK$93,040. Still, he continues to occupy a public housing unit. He is a bad example that Chu should not follow. We expect our legislators to be whiter than white.

A viable option is for Chu to make good use of his new monthly salary. With that money, he should be able to find his family a safe place to live somewhere in Hong Kong, with protection from the police. For his own safety, Chu needs to think again.

Lo Oiling is a former journalist based in Hong Kong