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Hong Kong ‘serious’ about tackling illegal structures but pragmatism needed: John Lee

Hong KongLaw and Crime

Hong Kong leader says he is ‘serious’ about tackling problem of illegal structures but authorities must be ‘pragmatic’

Chief executive stresses authorities are examining best way to approach problem, but highlights city has more than 400,000 private buildingsOne expert says government should act decisively over illegal structures, another insists time needed for authorities to carry out inspectionsHong Kong housingKahon Chan,Wynna WongandHarvey KongPublished: 5:29pm, 15 Sep, 2023Why you can trust SCMP

The government is “serious” about tackling the problem of illegal structures built on residential properties, but must be “pragmatic” in how it dealt with the problem, Hong Kong’s leader has said.

But Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu also warned on Friday that owners were responsible for ensuring their homes did not have any unauthorised structures added.

“The government is serious about the problem of illegal structures, but we have to face the reality that there are at least 400,000 private buildings [in Hong Kong], and each building, of course, is multi-storied. So if you look at the number of households, then you are talking about a very big number,” he said.

“Pragmatically, then, we have to think of a way to address the problem. So we are adopting the policy of taking action according to the risk.”

Illegal structures have been a concern over the decades, but the problem was thrust back into the spotlight after record rains earlier this month triggered a string of landslides.

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