DAB candidate calls for extension of UBW deadline

Updated: 2012-09-07 06:49

By Kahon Chan (HK Edition)

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 DAB candidate calls for extension of UBW deadline

LegCo Election candidate of the DAB in the NTW Chan Han-ban (left) and Lau Kong-wah, vice-chairman of the DAB, tour a wet market in Tuen Men on Thursday afternoon to make a last-minute bid to reinforce Chan's standing. Kahon Chan / China Daily

DAB candidate calls for extension of UBW deadline

Ben Chan Han-ban, a Legislative Council election candidate of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) in the New Territories West, has urged the government on Thursday to push back the deadline for declaration of unlawful building works (UBWs) in village houses, before carrying out a government threat to move unilaterally.

In order to become eligible for a five-year grace period, village home owners were directed to report on a limited scope of UBWs on their own properties, to the building department, before September 30. They also were required to provide safety guarantees underwritten by certified engineers.

Five months after the program launch, however, only 800 villagers have responded to the call. Director of the Buildings Department, Au Choi-kai, reiterated on Thursday that the government has never considered an extended deadline, adding that building laws will be enforced as usual unless the villagers surrender UBWs on their own.

Ben Chan, who is also a councilor of Heung Yee Kuk, recommends that villagers take part in the scheme, but he believes the government should set a later date, to help to create better mutual understanding on the problem of UBWs. "There is a lot to consider before a decision. They (people of the community) might work on the problem, if the government makes its promises clear," he said.

The 36-year-old district councilor had the concurrence of the Kuk's chairman, Lau Wong-fat, who issued a statement in support. Lau did not come in person, as promised, to lend his support, but Chan said Lau's failure to appear, had nothing to do with the disagreements within the Kuk.

Rural interests are well represented among candidates in the New Territories West. Chan Keung is backed by Leung Fuk-yuen, the well-known head of the Shap Pat Heung Rural Committee. Ho Kwan-yiu, the ex-president of the Hong Kong Law Society, and is himself the head for Tuen Mun Rural Committee.

But Chan has concerns about his own chances. The crowded field of pro-establishment candidates, Chan said, is eating into the DAB's support base.

The party sent three candidate tickets to run in the city's most populous constituency, where nine seats are available, but recent polls showed Chan's support to be between 2.7 to 4.0 percent - below what he will need for a victory.

Campaigning hard, Chan toured a wet market in Tuen Men on Thursday afternoon, making a last-minute bid to reinforce his standing. Unlike most of his counterparts, Chan did not play the "urgent call" (to supporters) card in his last week of campaigning.

DAB candidate calls for extension of UBW deadline

He is trying to impress voters with his own conviction, that the legislature has been bogged down by disputes and missed opportunities to address pressing quality-of-life issues like day to day necessities.

Though he acknowledges that lawmakers are given only veto power, he said lawmakers' motions can still ensure that the calls are being heard.

Having worked to reduce density in the planning of Tsuen Wan, Chan is no newcomer in dealing with the government and held that it can be convinced by reasoning. Chan believed his decade-long experience in front line community work will help him effectively handle territory-wide issues and legislation bills.

Other NTW candidates are Mak Mei-kuen, Leung Che-cheung, Chan Shu-ying, Chan Wai-yip, Mak Ip-sing, Tsang Kin-shing, Kwok Ka-ki, Tien Puk-sun, Chan Yut-wah, Leung Yiu-chung, Lee Wing-tat and Lee Cheuk-yan.

kahon@chinadailyhk.com

(HK Edition 09/07/2012 page1)