Crunch time for temporary flats

A controversy sparked by the locations and cost of light public housing projects is expected to come to a head between Legislative Council members and officials when the public work subcommittee meets today.

Election Committee Legco member Doreen Kong Yuk-foon said she will neither attend the meeting nor vote, criticizing the government for not providing comprehensive information on the projects.

The plan to build 30,000 temporary homes at eight sites to solve the housing problem and improve the home environments of people at the grassroots has triggered concern among the public and Legco members over cost and potential traffic congestion, especially in Kai Tak.

In a Facebook post on Monday, Kong expressed strong dissatisfaction with official submissions, which she said were "repetitive but less detailed explanations."

She said yesterday "government documents do not even provide comprehensive information so nothing can be asked in a three-minute question-and-answer time."

Kong will continue to monitor the government through other channels.

Ahead of the Executive Council meeting yesterday, acting chief executive Eric Chan Kwok-ki said the building of such flats in Kai Tak that can help 100,000 people is worth supporting.

He called on the community not to measure their value in monetary terms, saying "problems will be easily solved as long as we are willing to help the grassroots."

"We know that everyone has different considerations, but I hope they can understand those who are living in subdivided flats or bad environments desperately need help," he added.

Some 20 Kai Tak residents protested yesterday at the central government offices against a plan to build 10,700 flats on Olympic Avenue, saying they would delay the area's development into a second business district.

A representative said they had never been consulted on the site's selection and he considered that a mistake.

The residents, he said, support the move to solve the housing problem rationally but oppose the use of commercial sites to build such flats. It will definitely overload the area's infrastructure.

A protest in support of the move will be held before the meeting this morning outside the Legco complex, with the Society for Community Organization and subdivided units' tenants calling for Legco members to back the process and defend the housing rights of the grassroots.