An activist and an academic have proposed that the government treat the dump site at Kingswood Villas in Tin Shui Wai as an “unauthorised development” and exercise its power to deal with the matter. The suggestion came a day after demonstrators transported dirt to the central government offices to protest government inaction.
“Under the law, it is mainly the Planning Department which has the authority to act. In order to clear the dump, the Planning Department has to enforce the Town Planning Ordinance and treat the dump site as unauthorised development. It then has the power to ask the landlord to get rid of the dump,” Land Justice League member Chu Hoi-dick told RTHK on Tuesday.
“If [the area] is to be cleared, huge costs would be incurred by the landlord. The Planning Department… rarely makes such resolute decisions, but we hope that with this incident – which has garnered a lot of public attention – it could be brave and act in a determined manner, and regain the public’s trust by showing that it wanted to solve the problem,” Chu added.
Gov’t should ‘compensate’
His views were echoed by Chinese University of Hong Kong geography associate professor Edward Yiu Chung-yim, who also believed that the government should take back the land, RTHK reported. “The government is the ultimate holder of the land rights and the court, in at least six instances, has confirmed that the government as the landlord can exercise this right in the name of public interest without providing any other rationale… so the government can in fact take action effectively and immediately [in this case],” Yim said.
However, he also added that the government should also provide reasonable compensation in recognition of private land ownership rights.
The dump, which is estimated to contain around 300,000 to 400,000 tonnes of dirt, has been stabilised with emergency shotcreting.
On Monday, a group of around 50 protesters from Land Justice League, along with Labour Party lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan and Southern District Councillor Paul Zimmerman collected two tonnes of dirt from the countryside and took it to the central government offices. The police cited the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance and threatened to arrest protesters, but did not take anyone away. They cleaned up the area in less than 15 minutes, Apple Daily reported.