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    Hong Kong Villagers Protest over Building Laws


    by NTDTelevision

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    About 2,000 villagers in Hong Kong protested on Tuesday against their government's proposals to demolish illegal extensions to their homes. The government wants to take action against illegal structures in about 36,000 village homes.

    Over 2,000 villagers gathered outside Hong Kong's Legislative Assembly Tuesday, braving heavy rain, to protest against government proposals to demolish illegal structures in rural areas.

    The protesters complained about a lack of living space, and said that demolition would be costly.

    Since 1972, native families have been allowed to build a small house in the New Territories area of Hong Kong. The house could be 700 square feet per floor and three stories high.

    But for years, villagers have flouted these rules by adding roofs and extensions to the original structures.

    Now the government wants to take action against illegal structures in about 36,000 village houses.

    The issue has become controversial in recent weeks when it was revealed that four legislators, three of them pro-government, live in houses with illegal structures.

    [Mr. Yun, Villager]:
    "For example, the Chief Executive knew about the law but broke it nonetheless, so why can't we, ordinary citizens, build [illegal structures]? We don't have enough living space. We're doing this to live. There's nothing dangerous. If it were dangerous, we would take down the structures ourselves. We are protecting our own interests."

    The rural affairs body has asked the government to allow villagers to keep the illegal extensions, and instead pay premiums or rent. But the government has said there will be no amnesty for illegal structures.