Lashing for lawmaker in illegal structure rumpus

Local | Kelly Ip 24 Oct 2012

A lawmaker has refused to comply with a Buildings Department order to remove an illegal rooftop structure at his home.

Chan Kam-lam, of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said that after he received the order at his village home on Sha Tin Pass Road in August 2011, he filed an appeal using an offer made to New Territories residents to delay prosecution of those who registered such alterations.

"I registered the structure in June this year," said Chan, questioning why he should be treated differently from other villagers. He said the rooftop structure and flower pots on the ground floor meet government requirements.

However, a political commentator said the defiance of Chan only underlines the lack of political awareness and raises the question of how a person who flouts the law can call themselves a lawmaker.

When told that the registration offer is only a temporary reprieve and that illegal structures will eventually have to be removed, Chan said he is not afraid of being charged by the department.

He added that he will wait for the hearing on his appeal.

Since Chan has not removed the rooftop structure after being issued with the order, his home was put on the department restricted list last October.

A department spokesman said no enforcement action will be taken until the appeal is heard, withdrawn or abandoned.

Earlier, the department said homeowners on the restricted list can neither register illegal structures nor seek a delay in a removal order.

Those who do not comply with the order may be charged.

Solicitor Wong Kwok-tung, chairman of the Appeal Tribunal, Buildings Ordinance, said Chan is contradicting himself by filing an appeal in addition to registering an illegal structure under the scheme designed for village homes.

Eric Cheung Tat-ming, assistant professor at the University of Hong Kong, said generally the appeal should be heard within four months after the department sends out a written response.

Political commentator James Sung Lap-kung said the series of scandals over illegal structures of government officials and lawmakers reveals their low political awareness.

"Chan has violated the law. How can he make laws as a lawmaker?" said Sung, adding such a state of affairs is both ridiculous and unacceptable. "The issue of a removal order means his rooftop structure is a serious violation and Chan's attitude will only infuriate the public."

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