The government has a responsibility to help the Kwu Tung villagers whose houses were demolished, Kwu Tung North Development Concern Group Chairman Lee Siu-wah said on Friday. His comments came after one of the villagers complained that the police were slow to respond to her call for help when the demolition was taking place.

Photo: RTHK screen cap.

Lee said the authorities had yet to contact the affected villagers, after several houses in Kwu Tung village in Sheung Shui were suddenly demolished on Monday morning, rendering the families homeless. He blamed the incident on the government’s plans to develop North East New Territories.

Lee added that the demolished houses were registered, licensed squatter huts, and believed that the incident was only the tip of the iceberg.

Lau Chau-pik complained to Apple Daily that the police initially rejected her plea for help, urging her to go home and check. The police arrived hours after the demolition started, by which time Lau’s house had been bulldozed, Apple Daily reported. The police explained that they had to make sure because sometimes they received false reports. Democratic Party chief executive Lam Cheuk-ting criticised the police’s attitude.

A man operating a bulldozer at Kwu Tung. /Kwu Tung villagers.

The bulldozed houses were spread over two lots, one owned by a company under the Henderson Land Group and the other by a foreign-registered company Wise Treasure Development Corp. Henderson Land Group denied their involvement in the demolition and said that they would alert the police. Wise Treasure Development Corp. could not be contacted for comment.

Some villagers have applied to acquire title to their land through a process called adverse possession. Solicitor John Clancey, who has been involved in the case , told Apple Daily that Wise Treasure had not responded to the villagers’ application, and if they do not do so within a certain amount of time, villagers could ask the judge to make a decision.

Adverse possession, informally known as squatters’ rights, is a way of acquiring the title of real property through possession of the land for a statutory period of time under certain conditions.

Hermina Wong

Hermina is a Hong Kong writer and journalist. She graduated with a degree in politics from Cambridge, and is interested in international affairs, particularly those related to China, the EU and the Middle East. She also enjoys political satire.