Sep­a­rate le­gal and il­le­gal

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - HK COMMENT -

Mem­bers of the Com­mis­sion on Poverty agreed on Mon­day to ex­tend the cov­er­age of the one-off hous­ing al­lowance to those who live in sub­di­vided cu­bi­cles in fac­tory or com­mer­cial build­ings be­cause they are not el­i­gi­ble for pub­lic hous­ing and can­not af­ford pri­vate homes, even if the units they live in are il­le­gal build­ing works.

It should be noted that peo­ple liv­ing in sub­di­vided fac­tory or com­mer­cial build­ings may or may not know whether the units they live in are le­gal or not. Rel­e­vant au­thor­i­ties are do­ing the right and ap­pro­pri­ate thing by not mix­ing up il­le­gally sub­di­vided hous­ing units in fac­tory and com­mer­cial build­ings with the ten­ants who live there legally.

The govern­ment, while con­tin­u­ing with the evac­u­a­tion and dis­man­tling of danger­ous sub­di­vided hous­ing units in fac­tory and com­mer­cial build­ings, should treat as non-pri­or­ity cases the units that are not danger­ous and have ex­isted for a long time so as not to make the ten­ants panic. In the long run, rel­e­vant au­thor­i­ties should con­sider al­low­ing and en­cour­ag­ing own­ers of va­cant fac­tory and/or com­mer­cial build­ings fit for res­i­den­tial use to turn them into af­ford­able liv­ing quar­ters ac­cord­ing to the ex­ist­ing safety code as a vi­able part of the so­lu­tion to the res­i­den­tial hous­ing short­age.

When the Com­mis­sion on Poverty agreed ear­lier to in­clude in the hous­ing al­lowance scheme peo­ple who live in sub­di­vided hous­ing units be­cause they are not el­i­gi­ble for pub­lic hous­ing and can­not af­ford pri­vate homes, those liv­ing in sub­di­vided fac­tory or com­mer­cial build­ings were ex­cluded be­cause their liv­ing quar­ters are il­le­gal build­ing works. The ra­tio­nale be­hind the de­ci­sion back then is that the govern­ment would ap­pear self-contradicting and cause con­tro­ver­sies if it sub­si­dized ten­ants of il­le­gal build­ing works. The le­gal rea­son­ing for the com­mis­sion’s change of mind on Mon­day is based on the fact that the ten­ants of il­le­gally sub­di­vided hous­ing units in fac­tory and com­mer­cial build­ings have not vi­o­lated rel­e­vant law and reg­u­la­tions. The own­ers of those properties did and the ten­ants should not be faulted for it. They wouldn’t have picked il­le­gal quar­ters if they had other choices.

This is an ex­cerpted trans­la­tion of a Wen Wei Po edi­to­rial pub­lished on Aug 27.

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