Henderson wins High Court injunction in farmland row

Top News | Adeline Mak 24 May 2016

The battle for a small farm in Fan Ling went up another notch yesterday when a property developer gained a temporary injunction order from the High Court to clear villagers who are occupying the land.

The family of Becky Au Hei-man, co-owner of the MaPoPo community farm, and supporters are occupying the 5,500-square-foot site at Ma Shi Po village.

Yesterday Au threatened to use her body to block the bulldozers if any attempts are made to remove the family from the land.

Best Galaxy, a subsidiary of Henderson Land Development, ended a rental agreement for the land in 2007.

The temporary order will be in effect until Friday when a hearing will be held to handle the injunction.

The occupiers were defiant last night, with at least a dozen on the site.

Asked about the injunction, which names her father, Au Lau-kan, as the former tenant, Becky Au insisted the family would not go.

The law serves the developer and does not consider the intention behind reclaiming the land, she said.

It is the first step to complete the development plan for the northeast New Territories.

But Au admitted she is worried about police intervention now that the court order has been issued.

She also sought to broaden the standoff, saying: Its not merely a private dispute. People in Hong Kong have to fight against developer hegemony and collusion between businessmen and government officials.

We will guard the land for as long as we can.

The need now is for legal advice and deciding on a next step, she added, and people staying on the land have to be aware of the risk.

Henderson Lands lawyer said it is hoped there would be a court order similar to the one that led to the clearance of the Occupy movement from downtown areas in autumn 2014.

He also claimed trespassers removed a pillar holding a security camera and cut barbed wire at the land, posing problems for the companys efforts to enclose the plot.

An executive director of Henderson Land, Augustine Wong Ho-ming, said the company had offered the family cash compensation and another plot of land in exchange for the site. But the family rejected the offer.

Henderson Land, which had described the application for an injunction as a last resort move, said after the court order: We shall not take any immediate action for the time being. We have always hoped that the matter can be resolved amicably and urge Mr Au and his associates to vacate the land peacefully.

The company also noted that on March 23 a court bailiff delivered a possession notice of the land to the company based on a judgment from March last year.

The developer also sent security guards to the plot, but they failed to take it over after scuffles with villagers who said they were defending and protecting the farmland from being developed.

The land, used for storing fertilizer for the adjoining MaPoPo Community Farm, is the last area claimed by Henderson from 210,000 sq ft bought from the government under a development plan for the northeast New Territories.

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