Government fails to help office bearers of owners' corporations

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 August, 2015, 3:55pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 August, 2015, 3:55pm

I cannot agree more with Tom Mulvey ("Community spirit lacking in estates", August 3).

In the 1970s, after a review of the underlying causes of the outbreak of the riots in 1966 and 1967, the British Hong Kong administration decided to foster greater neighborliness and mutual help by launching a "Community Building Programme". The programme consisted of a massive drive to form mutual aid committees in public housing estates, a "Clean Hong Kong Campaign and a "Fight Crime Campaign".

Hong Kong festivals were organised and "Miss Hong Kong Festival" beauty contests held.

While mutual aid committees still have a role to play in public housing estates, the government has taken little action to revive the community spirit which drove the formation of kaifong (that is street) and other charitable associations that mushroomed after the second world war.

There remain many old tenement buildings with little building management owing to the owner-occupiers' inability to form owners' corporations or hire building management companies.

The government has chosen to stay on the sidelines and shifted the responsibility of building management to office bearers of owners' corporations.

These office bearers shoulder considerable legal responsibility under the Building Management Ordinance, but have little support from the government.

Liaison officers of the Home Affairs Department are called upon to mediate in disputes involving different groups of owners, but they have no statutory power to take or enforce any decisions.

Few owners are willing to take up such onerous statutory responsibilities on a voluntary basis.

As a result, disputes and lawsuits are common between groups of owners, and allegations of corruption in awarding tenders for building maintenance and repair works have been levelled against owners' corporations. The Home Affairs Department is unable to help residents resolve their problems.

The government has allowed residents in our urban villages to atomise, wiping out the good work that was done in the 1970s and '80s.

A lot more support ought to be given to office bearers of owners' corporations to help them do a better job.

Regina Ip, legislative councillor