A legal challenge launched against the government’s plan to rehouse residents of a temporary housing estate has been rejected.

Hui Wing-yan, a representative of Shek Lei Interim Housing Concern Group, filed a leave to apply for a judicial review in June this year. Hui said in the application that the decision to rehouse some residents of the Kwai Chung housing estate in another interim estate in Tuen Mun – some 18 kilometres away – was a violation of the Basic Law and the Bill of Rights.

High Court
High Court. Photo: Candice Chau/HKFP.

The application listed then chief executive Carrie Lam and then secretary for transport and housing Frank Chan as its proposed respondents, and the director of housing and a senior housing manager of the Housing Department as proposed interested parties.

High Court Judge Wilson Chan rejected Hui’s legal bid last Friday, ruling that he had listed “inappropriate people” as respondents and interested parties in his application.

In his application, Hui requested that the court demand the Housing Department place affected Shek Lei residents in public housing.

Hui said at the time that rehousing in Tuen Mun would mean longer and more expensive commutes.

Shek Lei Interim Housing. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Chan ruled that the policy to demolish the Shek Lei Interim Housing and the subsequent relocation decisions were made by and the responsibility of the Hong Kong Housing Authority, and hence Lam and Chan were not appropriate respondents to the application.

The judge also wrote in the judgement that the staff of the Housing Department, including the director and senior manager, were only following the policies and decision of the Housing Authority, and therefore they could not be listed as interested parties.

Shek Lei Estate in Kwai Chung is one of the city’s last remaining temporary housing areas. These are set aside for people who had to leave their previous homes because of landslides, fires or demolition plans for squatter areas, but who were not entitled to regular public housing.

The plan to redevelop Shek Lei Interim Housing area was announced by former chief executive Carrie Lam in her 2020 policy address.

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Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.