On Saturday, 20th October 2012, I gave a seminar about the registration scheme of Unauthorized Building Works of which more than 500 villagers attended the forum and joined to discuss thereafter. There was extensive and media cover for the event and it was widely reported on the television and in the newspapers the following day. The villagers were quick to express their opinions and the majority of them believe that the scheme is unacceptable. Furthermore, from a legal perspective, such a scheme clearly violates the principle of “presumption of innocence” as the scheme requires villagers to prove that they themselves were breaking the law when it is indeed the government’s duty to find evidence to prosecute them!
Moreover, the scheme neither allow villagers to defend themselves nor provides any long term solution to the problem but merely provides an indulgence of 5 years non prosecution period to attract villagers to register when it is in fact only a time delaying tactic to aid the government’s law enforcement in the future.
I propose that an amendment should be made to the outdated “Buildings Ordinance (Application to the New Territories) Ordinance (Cap.121)”, to include certain provision which is similar to S14AA of the Buildings Ordinance (Cap.123) to enable house owners to lawfully apply for permission to carry out minor building works at their premises. Such amendments would of course be user-friendly to facilitate easy application for permits from the Buildings Department.
If we could regularise the situation as proposed, it would be of great help to the government in resolving this long term social problem without causing any serious social conflicts or resentment. Further, the government could use her energy and resources to target on other more urgent matters. Isn’t it a better way to solve the existing problems that requires urgent attention than creating new ones?