Trying to make sense of a weird world - and maybe make it a little better
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Powerless or just useless?
According to the SCM Post, Hong Kong officials are powerless to stop New Territories landowners from blocking access roads to villages in order to build houses. Like much government propaganda, this is of course total nonsense. There are numerous regulations the government could apply if it wanted to - and if those are insufficient, it could always put new legislation forward to deal with the problem.
The fact is that what the government lacks is not legal power, but willpower to tackle the excessive influence of the New Territories Mafia - those memorably dubbed "indigenous property developers" by the late Kevin Sinclair. Well-intended measures to protect a vulnerable rural minorty decades ago have, through changing circumstances, created an elite class of Hong Kong citizens enjoying special privileges - particularly the widely abused "village house" policy - just because of where their ancestors were born.
But don't expect to see any measures to rectify this situation in Donald Tsang's policy speech tomorrow. There is an unspoken pact whereby the government will continue to enjoy the support of the Heung Yee Kuk and its LegCo representaive so long as it does nothing to curb the undeserved "rights" of NT villagers. Just one of the facts of life in Hong Kong.