Squatter gas blast threat ends on quiet note

Workers suspended an operation to tear down a squatter hut on a Kwai Chung hillside after a woman living there threatened to explode a gas cylinder.

However, a Lands Department spokeswoman said later that after discussions the family agreed to remove illegal structures that had been added to the hut. The hour-long standoff ended after the workers withdrew.

According to the spokeswoman, the Squatter Control Office received a complaint about the illegal structures to the hut in Tai Hang Mei Tsuen.

Officers inspected the site in mid- June and issued a warning to the owner after it was found the structures were built on government land. The department sent about 20 workers to demolish the structures yesterday, but the work was suspended “after encountering an emotional household owner.”

It was claimed that an angry woman who had been standing beside five men inside the hut rushed out with a liquid petroleum gas cylinder and threatened to set it alight.

About 20 police with shields, three fire trucks and an ambulance arrived at about 10.45am after a call from the Lands Department but withdrew when an agreement was reached.

The incident came as about 1,000 villagers from Yuen Long and other parts of the New Territories prepared to surround the Legco building today to protest against the government crackdown on illegal structures on village houses.

Heung Yee Kuk chairman Lau Wong-fat said the protest will be “peaceful.”

But Shap Pat Heung Rural Committee chairman and Yuen Long representative Leung Fuk-yuen said village leaders hope to take between 2,000 and 3,000 villagers to the scene.

Meanwhile, Federation of Trade Unions lawmaker Wong Kwok-hing said he removed a canopy and a glass structure from his Tuen Mun home at the weekend. The structures were there when he bought it in 2009, he said.

In a crackdown on illegal structures, Secretary for Development Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor announced last week that the government will first focus on what are clearly dangerous and illegal additions. However, those with low-risk or unauthorized structures seeking a temporary reprieve will have to register within a specified period, failing which these too will be demolished.
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