Don’t sacrifice Discovery Bay boat families to greed of Hong Kong developers
Your coverage of the Discovery Bay liveaboard families saga is much appreciated (“Discovery Bay families demand transparency after eviction notice”, September 4; “Discovery Bay boat owners appeal for more time to relocate”, September 6; “Discovery Bay boat owners protest over plan to clear out marina”, September 9).
Many of the 200 boat families in Discovery Bay are faced with going bankrupt, because the developer wants them to relocate within four months. But relocation is impossible, because there is simply no space in Hong Kong.
There are more than 9,000 registered pleasure vessels and less than 5,000 mooring places in Hong Kong. The Marine Department claims that liveaboard vessels are illegal unless a licence has been issued and there are currently only four such licence-holders. Yet, there are more than 400 liveaboards in Sai Kung, Aberdeen, Gold Coast, Tai Po and Victoria Harbour.
Moreover, all government correspondence (Internal Revenue Department, Election Committee, Marine Department, etc) are sent to their addresses. This has been going on for more than 15 years, maybe 20, and indicates that the status of liveaboards has been tacitly accepted by the government.
Watch: Evictions spark fears among Hong Kong boat dwellers
Now, however, the developer in Discovery Bay, after pocketing hundreds of millions over the years, has decided that more money can be made and thus issued an eviction notice.
Is it not time we stopped the developers, who act with impunity and without ethics to line their pockets?
The main cause of the inequality and social unrest in Hong Kong is the collusion of developers and our government. The government earns twice over, on land auctions and stamp duties, and needs developers to meet its targets.
Hong Kong has more water than land. Creative boat owners decided to move to the water, given that land and housing are scarce.
They pay all their fees and taxes, and live a happy life, but are now being punished by an unscrupulous developer, which together with the government has remained silent so far.
Shouldn’t the government stand up now and remind developers of their social responsibility, as well as work on legalising liveaboards and creating facilities so that this way of life – a Hong Kong heritage – is not only preserved but also enhanced?
Peter den Hartog, Tuen Mun