image

Hong Kong housing

More than 10,000 sign petition in support of eviction-threatened houseboat dwellers in Hong Kong’s Discovery Bay

Families say forcing them to leave marina would mean financial problems and dislocation from community

PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 September, 2018, 6:33pm
UPDATED : Friday, 21 September, 2018, 6:33pm

More than 10,500 people have signed a petition in support of 200 families which face eviction from their boat homes moored off a popular residential area on Hong Kong’s largest island.

By 5pm on Friday, an online appeal set up by the families who live on a marina which forms part of the Discovery Bay private residential development on Lantau Island, was approaching 11,000 signatures – just 24 hours after it went live on change.org.

The petition called on Hong Kong Resorts International (HKRI) – which owns and runs the residential neighbourhood at the centre of the row – to “engage” with the Discovery Bay Marina Club (DBMC) members in a bid to delay or reverse the planned eviction, set for December 31.

The petition follows HKRI giving notice at the end of last month that all owners must remove their boats from the marina before New Year’s Eve.

In a statement posted with the petition, the floating families made an urgent plea for support.

“Most of these vessels are houseboats which the owners, and their families, have heavily invested in over the decades. The shortage of protected berths in Hong Kong means that they have NOWHERE TO GO that would allow the boats to be used as houseboats,” the statement read.

Houseboat saga: First World problems or callous destruction of homes?

“This sudden notification means that families will be forced to look for alternate accommodation, in an already tight and expensive market, away from the Discovery Bay schools and community that we have been an active part of.

“The eviction coincides with the expiry of the debentures of all 220 boat owners including yachts. It also creates a dire financial situation for most having to pay both boat mortgages and rents ashore.”

One signatory, Stephanie Sim, explained her reason for signing the petition.

“It’s too short notice to evict people from their homes without any alternative. It’s messing with people’s lives, including children,” she said.

Discovery Bay Marina Club is owned by Hong Kong Resort Company, a principal subsidiary of HKR International (HKRI). HKRI did not respond to questions on the petition.

But a note the marina club sent to all members on September 14 said the closure was for “long overdue” renovations, denying what it described as “rumours” that the move was paving the way for reclamation and property development. It said there was “no plan to reclaim the marina for other purposes”.