China Watch Blog draws its readers attention to a Hong Kong Standard article today (Apr 19) citing a prominent Heung Yee Kuk member as having admitted that a commercial leisure park he owns has unlawfully occupied a large swath of government land for 18 years without him paying a cent.
But Leung Fuk-yuen, a key figure in resistance to a government crackdown on illegal additions to village houses, was quoted by the Standard as saying that he was not directly involved as his brothers managed the park in Tai Tong Lychee Valley, which uses part of Tai Lam Country Park.
“But I’ll comply with whatever the government wants, such as removing unauthorized structures,” said the Standard report quoting Leung, who is chairman of Shap Pat Heung Rural Committee and a Yuen Long district councillor.
The report said that he would not say if he was aware he breached land laws when planting fruit trees and setting up toilets, storage containers, wooden sheds and animal shelters two decades ago.
According to government watchdog the Audit Commission, the leisure park occupies 12,400 square meters, with 4,670 of it government land.
Director of Audit Benjamin Tang Kwok-bun blames the Lands Department for lax enforcement and for failing to act on the case for 18 years.
The auditor wants a comprehensive review of the management of unleased and unallocated government land. For it was also found that 70 percent of the Lands Department’s 494 “urgent” control cases – that means they are a public hazard – exceeded a four-month resolution target. Four cases were even unresolved after more than 10 years.
Tang also criticized the penalties for unlawful occupation offenses, saying they were not tough enough for a deterrent effect. And a lack of regular checks by the Lands Department had allowed many cases to escape detection for many years, he added.
Word from the Lands Department was that its officials accept the criticisms and will “strive to effect policy changes” to resolve “serious issues about land control and unwarranted structures.”
But this is a case of just a slap on the wrist for officials who have been fed by taxpayers money for 18 years, without having done their job at all. Shouldn’t the Lands Department officials be held accountable?If you think China Watch Blog's information is useful, click on cup of coffee on left hand side and make a small contribution via PayPal