Heung Yee Kuk asking for restrictions on villagers to be lifted

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 August, 2016, 5:26pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 August, 2016, 9:38pm

I refer to Alex Lo’s column (“Time to stand up to greedy Heung Yee Kuk”, August 12) and wish to comment on the views he expressed and arguments he put forward.

The basic facts upon which the arguments were based are deeply flawed. In a government press release on August 4, Secretary for Development Paul Chan Mo-po made it unequivocally clear that “the Heung Yee Kuk proposal” did not request lending by the government and there should be no mistake about that. However, Lo asserted that “the kuk wants the government to offer them low-interest mortgages”. Such a reckless inference is not only groundless, but also potentially dangerous to the informed public discourse and eventually the public interest.

Lo shows a stark lack of the basic facts and I wonder if he knows about the five-year-long home starter loan scheme, under which the Tung Chee-hwa administration spent

HK$14.85 billion in assisting 33,433 families and individuals to purchase homes by providing them with low-interest loans (up to HK$600,000) for down payment and related expenses.

Lo’s prejudice on this issue results from ignorance and his use of the word shameless is incorrect. Even if the kuk’s chairman, Kenneth Lau Ip-keung, had made such a request, how could it be considered shameless in view of the widely accepted precedent I have described?

Let me make it clear that the proposal put forward by Mr Lau is for the government to lift the restrictions prohibiting indigenous villagers, when making an application to build houses under the current small-house policy, from seeking a financial arrangement from third parties, that is, financial institutions or private individuals. He believes the deliberation by the government seems inconsistent with the core principles of a city that is supposedly one of the world’s major financial centres. After all, lifting such restrictions would not lead to any financial burden or involve the use of public funds.

Kingsley Sit, director, Heung Yee Kuk Research Centre