Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Pardon me, I hope this isn't a dumb question but........?

I wish that the Hong Kong Standard would do a better job of putting today’s news up with links. This tragedy happened this weekend and they have it in the "Today's” edition that you can browse but not with an IP that I can link to.

The gist of the situation is this.

A slumlord owns a building. In an effort to maximize both the rent generated by the building and to increase the misery of the poor in Hong Kong said slum lord has the building modified so that it contains smaller rooms thereby turning a two bedroom flat into a 7, 10 or 12 bedroom facility with a shared bathroom and kitchen but each room is rented to a different person or persons. To facilitate this conversion the slum lord has weight bearing walls taken out to make the interior more space efficient. Removing weight bearing walls causes the building to collapses killing six people. It also destabilizes the adjacent buildings and they have to be evacuated and demolished as well.

The government comes in and cleans up the mess and relocates the affected tennants. The owner of the building has, to this point continued to walk around free and has faced no immidiate financial liability other than the loss of rent.

Now for the dumb questions:

  1. Why hasn’t the owner of the building that collapsed been arrested and frog-marched out in front of TV cameras?
  2. Why haven’t the assets of this slum lord been frozen?
  3. Why is it the government’s responsibility to pay for this?
  4. Shouldn't it be the slum lords responsibility to pay for this? 
  5. Didn’t this break all sorts of safety laws?
  6. What about fire codes?
  7. Isn't it illegal to put this many people in a building not designed to house so many?
  8. How is the slime that owned this building still allowed to breath free air?

To be fair some of the people in the Buildings and Lands department should be strung up as well. This building was inspected 6 months ago. The overpaid, underworked, intellectually challenged, HKU graduate civil servants that populate the HK government cannot even seem to issue repair orders to poorly maintained buildings. They issue warning  after warning after warning but allow the landlords years, YEARS to come into compliance if anyone complains or contest the notice. Honestly, some of the civil servants and inspectors who allowed this to happen should also go to jail and more should be looking for another job. Somebody needs to be prosecuted and somebody needs to be fired over this beyond the slum lord.

Some of the renters displaced by this event are complaining, and rightly so I might add, that the locations that the government has provided for relocation are too far away from where they work. Now if you are an over paid underworked civil servant who has a Mercedes and a driver living in Tuen Mun and working in Hung Hom might not be a big deal. But if you are a working class person who makes $5000.00 a month who has to take a bus this is a big deal. These people should be relocated to flats in the immediate area and the slum lord who caused this should be responsible for paying for three months rent to give the people affected by this a chance to find another place to live.

The slum lord should also be prosecuted for murder as should the contractor who agreed to remove weight bearing walls. That to my knowledge they haven't been arrested and have even been given three or four days to hide assets is gross negligence on the part of the government and law enforcement officials in Hong Kong.

Hey maybe if the laws don't apply to this slum lord they don't apply to me as well. Maybe I should find out their name through the records department and go after them with a tire iron. I mean if they are not arrested for what they did then how could I be arrested for beating them to death? I am not going to do that but I wonder if I could? Now there is a good question!

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Blogger who thinks that wise landlords think about the safety of their tenants

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