The mood on the Mid-Levels Escalator this morning is one of bitter disappointment, as Hong Kong’s hard-working taxpayers flick through their free newspapers and learn that yet another government minister, Health Secretary Ko Wing-man, has been discovered with an illegal structure at his home. The anti-social criminal-bastard-fiend has a Hello Kitty toilet paper holder attached to the wall of a bathroom. No such fixture appears in the original architect’s plan authorized by the Buildings Department.
Ms Chan the marketing manager holds up the felon’s photo. “You can tell he’s a psychopath – just look at those eyes. Why on earth did CY Leung even think of hiring him?”
Mr Wong the banker shares her alarm. “I bet you he’s got a trellis hidden somewhere. God, I really hate people with those.” He looks at me and Ms Chan. “Do you have any idea what they do with them?”
We admit that we don’t know – not sure that we want to, either.
“They grow plants on them.”
Ewww. I screw up my face in disgust, and Ms Chan gasps. “No! That’s revolting. These people are absolutely sick. What’s happening to this city?”
As we glide down the world’s most ingenious public transport system closer towards the heart of Asia’s throbbing international financial hub, we notice a scuffle on the street below. Amid streaks of pepper spray, a group of police are dragging a driver from a small white van. Mr Wong nods approvingly. “Ah! He’s been caught with a suction cup holder stuck on the dashboard. There’s a big clampdown on them – quite right too. I mean you can’t have people adding things to their property just like that.”
From top government officials to lowly deliverymen, civilized society is breaking down all around us. Meanwhile, in a distant jungle, the Big Lychee’s most famous son dangles from a helicopter aiming expert and deadly kung-fu kicks at other abominable evildoers. Our only hope. Who else can save us from the erectors of car-port roofs, the installers of glass frames and the unspeakable trellis beasts, but Jackie ‘Chinese people need to be controlled’ Chan?
Yes yes yes, Hemmers. OK, we’ve got it. The illegal structures per se are generally minor handyman-type add-ons, and so – woe be unto us – the law must be an ass.
Now try writing about CY’s silence, lack of openness and lack of integrity when Henry was caught short and started blaming his wife.
Jacky Chan is rumored to have 3 brain cells. That’s probably exaggerated.
I was chatting with my boss on this illegal structure thing and I raised the possibility for CY to “come out” with “integrity” while Henry was caught. My boss said, “Really? But is that what politicians will do? Those in the UK will cover it up till death. I’m just surprised that he didn’t tear them down when he decided to become a candidate.”
Turns out CY’s not much smarter than Henry on this. Maybe he didn’t realize the illegal structure would cause Henry so much trouble when he made his decision. But if we want to criticize the “lack of openness and lack of integrity,” we may as well blame the world.
I was marvelling at President Hu luscious black locks and wondering whether he uses the brand of hair dye that Jacky Chan promotes? Perhaps he could recommend it, in Mandarin, to CY who looks a little grey?
Still not convinced. Try again tomorrow?
It’s probably my issue. I don’t have an illegal structure to call my own, and I loathe equally liars and fallacious reasoning based on self-interest.
My dear Hemmers
As if illegal hello kitty toilet roll holders were not enough , you now have an illegal structure on your blog. Follow the “abominable evildoers” link to the Washington Post World report, and you will find the following admonishment in black and white : “Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed” Tut tut.
No wonder you are becoming so defensive of CY’s trellis
PS @ Mary Hinge – I somehow feel that there’s a small difference between an add-on trellis ( or two) for the benefit of the roses and a huge illegally-constructed / covered-up basement pleasure palace-cum-wine cellar which I may have ( or if not me, my wife may have ) deliberately built , and on which I’m not even paying my fair whack of govt rates *. Does the plastic trellis in front of the widely-spaced pillars on my balcony to prevent my cat squeezing through also count as an illegal construction?
*I managed to get enery fixed right on proper on the rates bill thing. Hope he got a huge back-dated fine.
What everyone is missing here is WHY does no-one apply for planning permission for their illegal structures as you would for instance if you were putting an extension onto your house in the UK?
Is it something to do with an inordinately lengthy and bureaucratic process with no guarantee of reasonable success that ultimately results in, rather than a slight increase in the properties rateable value, a massive demand for a 1-off land premium that works on the assumption that the patio you wish to enclose is going to be built up to 40 stories high?
I believe that there was once a plan to link the Furama and Ritz Carlton hotels in Central which came to nought when the Lands Department told the planners how much the land premium would be to cover the alley way that ran between the 2.
RTP, CY has (had?) an illegal basement too. Much smaller, yes. But eminently mentionable (by him, if he’d wanted to come to the party with clean hands) all the same.
@ Mary Hinge
True indeed. The funny thing is that when CY invited the press to inspect his home , and the press discovered the illegal basement ( or rather , discovered that it was illegal ) , CY was having it fitted out as base for the extra security police that now must guard him. To me that’s not the way anyone behaves who has anything he deliberately wants to cover up.
Anyway, let’s let the case rest.
Probably – the way it was explained to me when I was studying HK conveyancing law is that illegal structures require a variation in the property lease from the government (recalling all land here other than St John’s cathedral is on leasehold land from the government, not freehold) and the government will usually charge you more than an arm or leg to vary the lease, as well as the bureaucratic time and hassle. For most people, the convenience and resale value of a property with an illegal modification delivers a much better return than doing it legally and shelling out a great sum of money to the government. You don’t get as good a selling price for an illegally modified as you would if you’d done it legally, but you still come out ahead.
On my Sunday morning walk I noticed a number of the single garages built to house private cars along Barker Road on the Peak have gone. The sites are now cordoned off with a fence and signs declaring “Government Land.” Clearly enforcement action is being stepped up.
The better question is not so much illegality but “Do I tell my bank?”
Oh no, more of this Illegal structure chatter…
big f**king deal…
politics, politics…..Henry and co came up with all that bullshit about West Kowloon, tear gas & etc…CY took a crack at Henry’s illegal structure, call it even…you can say he’s hypocritical, but that son of a bitch Henry sure deserved it.
CY you’re the man!
Next, Ming Pao is going to ask CY about littering and gets 20 year old photos of him tossing a toothpick onto the side walk..CY is caught lying again! Damn, this man has no integrity…! Another 3 week expose on that toothpick dropping lie.
Those who are constipated will continue to bicker about this 3 years from now…Others will say “STFU, get a life!” Get the CE to do something useful besides answering questions about his trellis related atrocities please..he’s getting paid a handsome salary for this? Come one, people……I know it’s not common in HK nowdays..but try to have some common sense, please
The growing conviction, as Lai See brilliantly wrote yesterday, is that Leung is Peking man. Because of Leung’s devious ways, because he plays sneaky games, the only way to counter him is to borrow his own tactics.
The repeated lying and obfuscation about the multi-million dollar cellar are just symbolic of his refusal to disobey Peking’s slightest whims. Independence from the mainland, unseating Leung, same battle!
HEAR HEAR !