Two pro-Beijing lawmakers defeated in the recent district council polls have applied to the Housing Authority (HA) to continue occupying their local offices until end of September, when their terms in the Legislative Council come to an end.
If the extensions are granted, a newly elected district councillor plans to take the matter to the ombudsman.
Elizabeth Quat and Christopher Chung Shu-kun of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) lost their district council seats in November last year, at the Chung On and Yue Wan constituencies respectively.
Typically, outgoing councillors’ offices should be emptied and handed over to their replacement; however, the two have applied to the HA to extend the use of the offices as they are still members of the Legislative Council.
The Labour Party’s Yip Wing, who took Quat’s district council seat, said on a Commercial Radio programme that he still does not have an office.
Yip said he received a written reply from the HA on December 24 saying that he will have higher priority in renting the office next to Quat’s, which belonged to the DAB’s Gary Yeung Man-yui, also defeated in the election.
The HA told him that its policy for new district councillors to takeover offices only applied to empty offices. However, Yip said “it is very reasonable to apply for Quat’s office.”
According to Yip, Quat told the HA that she did not have an office to serve local residents. He said that Quat does in fact have another local office as a lawmaker in the district and did not see why Quat would need a second one.
Currently, Quat’s rental of the office has been extended to January 30. Yip added that if her application to the HA to extend the rental to September were approved, he “will not rule out [taking the matter to] the ombudsman.”
Similarly, new Yue Wan district councillor Chui Chi-kin has been unable to take over Christopher Chung’s office.
Chui told Ming Pao that Chung’s office is now used as a lawmaker’s office, and he has to rent a 100-square-foot office outside the constituency for HK$4,000 monthly. He described the arrangement as “totally unfair.”
Chui later posted on his Facebook page that the constituency’s HA had promised to set up an office for him, although the building work may take up to 11 months. He thanked a manager at the HA for the arrangement.
Quat and Chung both told the newspaper that the arrangements of their offices were appropriate.
After the election, local residents and activists gathered outside the offices of Quat and Chung to celebrate their defeats.