Small house policy should be scrapped

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    The small house policy may have been introduced with good intentions, but has become wide open to exploitation – and led to various areas in the New Territories being covered with jumbles of houses, ostensibly built for indigenous villagers to live in, but all too often built to make profits by renting or selling to people from outside the areas.

    There have long been discussions regarding whether to scrap the policy, but there are staunch advocates; even rural people who are ready to vocally defend this being a privilege that's only for male "indigenous" villagers. From a South China Morning Post news report on 16 June:

    Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor may have stirred controversy by calling for an end to the New Territories small-house policy but the likely next chief secretary has won strong support from the public.

    Her stance has received popular support in phone-in radio shows and among people approached by the South China Morning Post (SEHK: 0583, announcements, news) in street interviews yesterday.

    Giving her personal view, Lam said in an interview with the Post early this week that a line should be drawn to halt the endless demand for land under the policy, which since 1972 has granted every male indigenous villager the right to build a three-storey house of 2,100 sq ft close to their ancestral homes.

    Lam's view is in line with that of chief executive-elect Leung Chun-ying, who said in an interview during his election campaign that the problem should be settled and solutions would be raised during his tenure.

    Former chief secretary David Akers-Jones, an important adviser to Leung and an early executor of the policy, also advocated a radical rethink, saying the policy had been seriously abused by villagers selling houses for quick profit. This had violated the original purpose of the policy, which was formed to cater for the housing need of rural people.

    In an interview two months ago, he said agricultural land should be rezoned for suburban development instead of awaiting applications under the small-house policy.

    also, from same day, a leader in the Post included:

    The reasons for scrapping the small-house policy are numerous. Introduced in the early 1970s as an interim fix for poor housing in rural areas, it was soon abused as a way to make quick profits; villagers often sold their rights to property developers to build houses they never live in. The policy has, indeed, degenerated into one protecting a vested interest at the expense of the public good. Not only does it look terribly outdated and discriminatory today, it also splits the community and goes against core values such as equality and fairness.


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