Monday, October 9, 2017

Hong Kong: The Basic Law

Article 105 of the Basic Law states that "The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall, in accordance with law, protect the right of individuals and legal persons to the acquisition, use, disposal and inheritance of property and their right to compensation for lawful deprivation of their property. " This is an expansion of Article Six in the Principles section that "The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall protect the right of private ownership of property in accordance with law. " The Basic Law spells out the most fundamental, the most "basic" principles that should be followed.

It is unavoidable that there will be times that other laws and policies come into conflict with the Basic Law. But the Basic Law shall over-ride these other laws and policies, since it represents the basic values of Hong Kong society. In a sense, the Basic Law is the foundation of Hong Kongs institutions and society. There has been some concern that the Land (Compulsory Sale for Redevelopment) Ordinance might compromise the spirit of the Basic Law in protecting the right of private ownership of property.

That ordinance provided that for three kinds of properties, namely those hat are older than 50 years, those with each owner owning no less than 10 percent of the indivisible rights on the lot, and industrial buildings older than 30 years, may be subject to compulsory auction application by the developer, provided that the developer has obtained the consent of owners of 80 percent or more of the related property. The purpose of the new rule was, in the first instance to make it easier for buildings in disrepair to be redeveloped. But it will also facilitate better land use to reflect needs as they emerge.

Legislator Regina Yip pointed out that the number of uch applications by developers has climbed substantially since the passing of the ordinance. It was also noted that few, if any, of the properties concerned were cited as being in disrepair. Moreover, some of the owners had been subjected to tremendous pressures and even bullied by unidentified people. Yip''s motion to review the operations of the ordinance was supported by a number of other legislators, some of whom were concerned that having scant resources, most owners would have a difficult time fighting for their legal rights in a court.

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