Villagers displaced by future new town developments could be offered rehousing and generous compensation packages, thanks to new proposals outlined by the government.
The proposals include increasing the amount of compensation from HK$600,000 to HK$1.2 million. Villagers who are displaced will also be offered rehousing in dedicated estates built by the Housing Society.
The criteria needed to be eligible for the compensation packages has also been lowered. Residents only need to have lived continuously in one place for at least two years before the clearance process begins to be able to claim compensation, rather than the 10 years under the existing policy.
Secretary for Development, Michael Wong Wai-lun, said that more than 8,000 households are expected to benefit from the compensation.
“We completely understand the concerns of those who are affected as a result of development and clearance exercises … we hope the enhanced measures can pragmatically take care of different people’s needs,” Wong said.
But despite the increases in compensation, some Young Post readers were still concerned about the impact of new developments on rural villagers.
Christine Ling, 14, from German Swiss International School, said development was generally beneficial to Hong Kong, but added that it needs to be measured and limited.
“If [development] were to continually take place, then the rich history behind certain villages would be completely eradicated,” she said. “The government in this scenario is seemingly forcing out villagers and [their] industries. What would happen if they refused?” Christine asked. “In other parts of the world, such as [mainland] China, the government has forcefully cut electricity and water supply to households that have rejected such offers.”
But Pacino Leung, 17, from Shun Tak Fraternal Association Leung Kau Kui College, said he supported the compensation proposals.
“[If] land is [already] ready for redevelopment, the cost of compensation for residents would be lower than developing country parks, and there would be [less] opposition as well,” he said.