On the morning of 4th April, the staffs and security force hired by the Lands Department organized a surprise attack with the police to evict the farmland of Mr Lai by force. The security force violently carried Mr Lai and Mrs Lai away from the farmland and immediately surrounded the land with wire net.
According to the video below, at 9:05 am Mr Lai Wing Kuen has answered a phone call from the Lands Department, asking him whether he has received the letter mailed in the previous day. Mr Lai has said no. Once he put down the phone, around twenty people dispatched by the Lands Department already arrived, rushed into the farmland, put the letter of the response of the Director of Lands Department into the hand of Mr Lai, and grabbed the couple away by force. The police was there but did nothing.
Around 50 supporters have arrived and attempted to stop the Department vehicles from driving away, but were removed by the police.
The supporters also suspected that the Lands Department has illegally demolished asbestos containing materials. Environmental Protection Department (EPD) was called to the scene for an investigation. Mr Au, senior environmental protection inspector, said if it is confirmed that the handling of asbestos is illegal, further action including prosecution will be taken. According to the webpage of Environmental Protection Department, it is an offence to carry out the asbestos abatement work without prior written notification to the EPD or without appointing a registered asbestos contractor to carry out the asbestos removal.
This is not the first attempt of the Lands Department.
On 6th March, they sent 50+ people to seize the land, but were repelled by the crowd that supports Mr Lai.
Then on 27th March, it was heard that the Lands Department would take action again. Thus, around one hundred people have come to defend the farmland. However, Lands Department did not show up. So the supporter rallied to North District Lands Office to request for the Office to directly rent the farmland to Mr Lai, and to request to meet with the Director of Lands Department. Mr. Tony Moyung, North District Lands Office, has agreed to forward the request to the Director. He has also promised not to seize the farmland until he has received the response.
Mr Lai has been farming in Ma Shi Po for 30 years. He rented the land from the indigenous inhabitants of the New Territories. Because of the Northeast Development Plan, part of the farmland has been sold to Henderson Land Development. Moreover, Lands Departments said that around 60,000 square-feet (or 60%) of the referred land is government land. Mr Lai was accused of illegally occupying the government land for over 20 years, even though he has paid the lease to the landlord. After negotiation, Lands Department re-tendered the agricultural land for a three-year tenancy. At that time, Mr Lai believed that no one will be interested in renting a land that will soon be resumed and is lack of investment value. Thus, he did not make a strong protest against the decision. However, a mystic company, which has just established on 2013/10/29, three days before the tender closing date, won it with a high-price of $120,000 per year. According to Kaikai Cho of Mapopo Community Farm, the normal market rental of the referred farmland should be around $8000 per year, as each 斗種 dau chung (equivalent to 7260 feet square) is about $1000. A lawyer named Mr Luke Yip Ki Chi is the director of that company.
- Mapopo Community Farm fb page
- Hong Kong In-Media: 2014/04/06.
- Appledaily: 2014/02/26, 2014/04/04
- Passion Times: 2014/04/04
- House News: 2014/04/04
- HK ATV: 2014/03/06
- 政府部門常用辭彙: Dau chung