Residents of the “unliveable village”, Ho Chung, have piled into a bus to petition the Ombudsman and the Development Bureau. Twenty of them demonstrated outside the Central Government Headquarters.
Their grievances are many. They claim “bully boys” prowl Ho Chung demanding money for car access and parking. “I call them tripods,” one villager said. “They pretend to be triads.”
Families fearing for their safety have been forced to move away, the villagers say. They ask not to be named fearing for their own families’ safety. One developer controls more than half of the private land; two lesser property owners compete.
Various pressure groups have been formed in the village. On Facebook two appear, a Chinese language Ho Chung New Village Concern Group and an English language Ho Chung New Village Real Concern Group.
Unsuspecting purchasers of property “have bought themselves a home in hell”, we were told.
The biggest developer is named as Mr Wong. “He’s not a friendly boy,” one resident said. “He’s notorious. He uses bully tactics.” Mr Wong — he doesn’t deserve the honorific; we’ll call him Wong — has put up fences and blocked roads with concrete.
His men allegedly collect $800 to $1000 a month for car access and parking from some residents.
Paul Zimmerman of Designing Hong Kong, who has studied Ho Chung as the archetypical example of all that can go wrong with the small house policy, said the Government has given up on Ho Chung and its suffering people. They tried in the 70s to create village layouts.
Fences erected in Ho Chung by land owners blocking emergency vehicle access
The Planning Department and Civil Engineering Department sought to negotiate with land owners, but found it an impossible task. Now the Government allows private land owners to do what they like on their property.
Paul said Ho Chung New Village suffers more than other villages because the private land is contiguous as the paddy fields spread over the large flood plain of the Ho Chung River are “funny shaped pieces of land with no space between them”.
The situation can only get worse. “Every piece of land will be built on.” Many sites have no road access, footpaths or proper drains. Emergency vehicle access is disappearing as the Government failed to ensure this was registered against land titles.
“The Government has backed away,” Paul said. “They’re not willing to invest in infrastructure and resume private village land. There is no intention to implement the village road visible on the outline zoning plan. Without proper sewage, drainage and access, Ho Chung is turning into an unliveable mess. “
The Heung Yee Kuk has a stranglehold at all levels concerning the 642 NT villages. They’re on the village committees, rural committees, rural district councils, Legislative Council, Chief Executive Election Committee, and their Chairman sits on Exco. “The Heung Yee Kuk – which is controlled by indigenous land owners –has disproportionate representation,” Paul said.
The suffering families of Ho Chung are reduced to petitioning the Ombudsman.
POLICE COMMENT ON HO CHUNG SITUATION
Contacted by SAI KUNG BUZZ, the operations chief at Sai Kung police station, Senior Inspector Janet Chan, said:
“The police do not have the authority to control whether or not people are charging fees for use of private land. If there is any breach of the peace or criminal activity we will handle it. The Anti-Triad Section of the Wong Tai Sin district is actively looking into the situation at Ho Chung. We know that a number of government departments are trying to sort out the issue of EVA (emergency vehicle access) but the problem comes back to the fact it is private land.”