Officials in Hong Kong have been accused of failing to act for more than a decade over an illegal renovation at a lawmaker’s home.
The city’s Buildings Department was said to have ignored the fact that a garage had been turned into a flat at the Repulse Bay residence of legislator Claudia Mo Man-ching.
Elizabeth Quat, from the Democratic Alliance for Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, raised the issue with development minister Michael Wong Wai-lung during a Legislative Council meeting on Wednesday.
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In response to an earlier question on illegal structures at the homes of celebrities from lawmaker Tony Tse Wai-chuen, Wong had said the department would be impartial when handling the issue.
Quat then asked why the alterations at Mo’s home had not been addressed, despite being known about for more than 10 years.
Mo pointed out the changes had been made before she had moved into the flat more than 30 years ago.
She later expanded on that in a reply to the Post, and said her husband, Philip Bowring, had bought the property in 1985, and the changes had government approval.
Wong told Quat he would not comment on individual cases and insisted the department had been discharging its duties fairly and without prejudice or favour, and would seek legal advice if needed.
“I’m confident that the department would be able to stick to the principle of impartiality, ” Wong said.
One in four Hong Kong properties has illegal structures, but most owners get away with their misdeeds
In an earlier reply to the Post from the department in May, a spokesman said the flat did not comply with the design and building standards of the original land use, but since it did not involve structural change, and there were no fire safety issues, it was not a priority.
But the spokesman added the department had written to the owner asking for a reversion to the original use as a garage.
The Post has contacted the department regarding Mo’s statement that the changes had since been approved by the government.
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This article Hong Kong lawmakers clash over illegal renovation made to legislator’s home more than 30 years ago first appeared on South China Morning Post