Illegal basements are back

That wasn’t flooding in Sai Kung yesterday – that was ‘water accumulation’. If I read this government expert correctly, it’s flooding if the drainage system is overloaded. But if the drains are merely blocked with debris (from previous actual flooding), it’s not a ‘real’ flood. You’re just imagining it.

The serious bad weather story remains the Tai Tam landslide that stripped bare unauthorized basements beneath cliff-top houses at Redhill Peninsula. Or ‘unearthed’, as the Standard puts it.

It’s an ugly development, even by Hong Kong ‘luxury’ housing standards. Rows of tacky villa-ish townhouses are jammed together like snaggle teeth and wrapped round an entire mini-peninsula that was once a modest charm of nature overlooking Tai Tam Bay. Like Parkview up the road, it’s an example of privatizing – or wrecking – everyone else’s view of the scenery.

Properties vary, but typically seem to go for around HK$70-100 million. Or at least they did…

A property agent said the house [number 72, suspected of unauthorized construction and the unlawful occupation of government land] is “dragging down” neighbors, who are now worried. “Many owners of detached houses would have, more or less, illegal structures in their premises, so they are afraid of being inspected,” the agent said.

‘More or less’. Got it. Anyway – names

Illegal structures were allegedly found at house No 70 after an inspection was conducted by building officers. It is said to belong to Cyberport chief investment officer Johnny Chan Kok-chung.

The owner of house No 74 is said to have initially refused to allow inspectors in, prompting the Buildings Department to say it was seeking a court warrant.

But it is now understood the owner has agreed for inspections later this morning. The house is said to be owned by former HSBC Asia-Pacific marketing head, Yuen Wai-ming

The five-story house No 72 is owned by the former head of Blackstone Advisory Partners in Asia, Anthony Steains, who was in Thailand when the landslide occurred.

The Buildings Department said inspectors found a 17-meter by nine-meter [1,646 sq ft in English] basement on the bottom floor of No 72, with part of the retaining wall near the government slope being rebuilt as windows.

‘Water accumulation’ for the riff-raff, ‘retaining walls near government slopes being rebuilt as windows’ for the rich.

A couple of wordy but sensible threads on the alleged Chinese spy found working as an assistant in the British parliament, here and here.

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13 Responses to Illegal basements are back

  1. My little Ferris Bs are still off school cos of "water accumulation" even though the CS said everything was back to normal says:

    Yuen Wai-ming, owner of No. 74 and who refused to let officials in for a safety inspection, needing them to go to court to get permission, is also on the Public Relations Committee at Community Chest, as per HK01.

  2. Guest says:

    More storms are on their way.

  3. Norbert Schroff says:

    In aesthetic terms, most Hong Kong buildings are criminal and should not be authorised. But when the populace has no sense of personal space and no love for greenery, plus the taste of ghastly Philistine nouveaux-riches, it’s not surprising what gets thrown up. Redhill should be bulldozed.

  4. Hercules Poirot says:

    “Illegal structures were allegedly found at house No 70 after an inspection was conducted by building officers.”

    Were ALLEGEDLY “illegal” structures FOUND or not? What is this “allegedly found” AFTER a so-called inspection by government officers???

  5. Cassowary says:

    “with part of the retaining wall near the government slope being rebuilt as windows.”

    Good grief, what is it about having loads of money that makes people stupid? “Retaining wall”, the purpose is right there in the name. Oh let’s go and knock a great big hole in it and replace several inches of solid concrete designed to hold back tonnes of soil with some glass, what could possibly go wrong? Rich people, bunch of wankers.

  6. Mary Melville says:

    No surprise that a Cyberport exec has a relaxed attitude towards lease conditions, despite being a de facto civil servant. HK Science Park is adept at fudging, like the data on the number of real tech firms among its tenants. There have been numerous revelations on operations that breach its lease conditions. But the only enforcement was that to effectively close down Apple, putting hundreds of employees on the breadline, on the excuse that a tiny portion of the premises it leased were being used for secretarial services.
    And sadly, despite the now in your face evidence that stripping and excavating slopes and trashing thousands of mature trees to fuel the ‘urgent need of land for housing” mantra will generate more disaster in coming years, approval will be gerrymandered for the development of more Redhill enclaves on green belts.
    That there is already a glut of private residences, check for the percentage of homes that never have a light turned on and the RE shop windows, will not halt the juggernaut.
    So while citizens in real need wait for services, our officials will be busy wringing their hands over the damage caused to the homes of the rich and brought about by their own avarice.

  7. Chinese Netizen says:

    Illegal basements are back? Did they ever really leave?

  8. HK_Cynic says:

    Given HK Government treatment of Jimmy Lai’s “lease transgressions” over a very small office space, you can only imagine the jail time these Redhill residence owners face. Wait. What? Oh never mind. They aren’t “enemies of the state”. Rule of law fairness doesn’t apply.

  9. Yonden Yahoo says:

    Just imagine how the illegal basements are going to flood in ‘Lantau Tomorrow’ … in fact why not let a few of the ‘new arrivals’ from the motherland live in the 1,600 sq ftRedhill dungeon? Might save some reclamation somewhere along the line …

  10. Wolflikeme says:

    “Properties vary, but typically seem to go for around HK$70-100 million.”

    We call ’em townhomes. Hong Kong…where billionaires get to live like American millionaires.

  11. seedy Brit journo Tim Ommelet says:

    Now that the HK [police] has transformed […] it is more than unlikely that they will “take action” against pro-establishment “patriots” like the sort that lives in enclaves like Red Hill. I predict there will be an “inept investigation”. It will take a long time and somehow, along the way, charges (if any) will be dropped, Building Department will issue newly invented guidelines that may, or may not, include trellises, basements, >300 s.f. bay windows and wine cellars and then the local press will receive a message that publication of any investigative reports will trigger NSL tripwires. So, back off, punks.

  12. Mary Melville says:

    @Wolflikeme: billionaires get to live like American millionaires??? I have seen better council houses than those at Redhill. Stuck like glue to your neightbour, there is more privacy in a subdivided unit.
    For far less one could purchase a chateau in France or a sprawling home in Hollywood.
    The residential market in HK is for morons.

  13. A cautious acquaintance says:

    Mr Hemlock

    For several weeks or indeed months your (formerly) Twitter threads have consisted solely of the first tweet, nothing else. No “thread”

    It may be becasue I am the only person on the planet who is not on X/Twitter (or indeed Facebook) but if not would you pease ensure your posted threads are available to view.

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