Following is a question by the Hon Alan Leong and a reply by the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, in the Legislative Council today (June 20):
It has been reported that the shipyards on the Government lands at Ap Lei Chau Praya Road have since 2007 moved out one after another upon receipt of compensation from Sun Hung Kai Properties Limited (SHKP), but the Government lands have not been returned to the Government, and they have instead been taken over by Cheerjoy Development Limited (Cheerjoy), a subsidiary of SHKP, in accordance with an agreement. It has also been reported that the company pays for the removal costs of the shipyards on the pretext of "assisting the tenants to plan for restructuring or cessation of business", and it is mentioned in the agreement that "Party A (i.e. Cheerjoy) is the legally authorised person of Party B (i.e. the shipyard)", "Party B confirms that Party A may apply to the Government for granting to Party A or its designated persons the use of any shipyard, or any part thereof, of any tenant who has moved out", and "Party B hereby expressly agrees not to raise objection in respect of such application or approval". Cheerjoy may also "deliver vacant possession to the Government at any time and in any manner determined at its sole and absolute discretion". In addition, the shipyard sites are already enclosed by wire fences, fitted with "Private Land, No Trespassing" warning signs, as well as manned and patrolled by security guards who claimed to be hired by SHKP. Some shipyard tenants had asked the Lands Department (LandsD) whether they could rent the slipways next to the shipyards, but LandsD advised them to ask SHKP. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) whether SHKP or Cheerjoy has communicated with the Government in respect of the aforesaid shipyard sites; whether the Government knows the details of the aforesaid agreement or other removal agreements signed between SHKP or Cheerjoy and the tenants who have moved out; if there is no agreement, why the sites are enclosed by wire fences, fitted with "Private Land" warning signs, as well as manned and patrolled by security guards hired by SHKP after the removal of the shipyards, and why LandsD staff told the aforesaid tenants that they should contact SHKP to inquire about the rental of the slipways;
(b) given that in response to media enquiries, LandsD indicated that individual shipyard tenants had proposed to terminate the leases, and LandsD was following established procedures to resume the sites, how many sites vacated by the aforesaid shipyards have been resumed by LandsD so far, of the details of the land resumption, how many sites vacated by the shipyards have not yet been returned to LandsD but are enclosed by wire fences and fitted with "Private Land" warning signs; and whether there are sites vacated by the shipyards which have not been returned to LandsD and in respect of which no Government rent has been paid; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and
(c) how LandsD will deal with the resumed shipyard sites; whether open tenders will be called to enable persons interested in operating maintenance shipyards to use the sites, or whether their land use will be changed to open space?
The Government land along Ap Lei Chau Praya Road referred to in the question provides altogether 33 Short Term Tenancy (STT) sites, amongst which 29 are for shipyard use and four are for sawmill use. The relevant STTs stipulate that the sites are for the above-mentioned specific uses only, while sub-letting by these tenants is not permitted. In the event that the tenants no longer rent these sites, they may serve Notices to Quit (NTQ) to the District Lands Office/Hong Kong West and South (DLO/HKW&S), which would obtain possession of the sites after confirming that the tenants have performed their relevant responsibilities under the STTs (such as clearing the structures at the sites). Moreover, should DLO/HKW&S discover and confirm that the shipyards and sawmills at the relevant sites have ceased operation, NTQ could be served and appropriate action could be taken to obtain possession of the sites.
At present, DLO/HKW&S has obtained possession of two out of the 33 STT sites in accordance with established procedures. There are another 14 tenants who have served NTQ to DLO/HKW&S. It is expected that DLO/HKW&S can obtain possession six of these sites in end this month and eight others in end August. DLO/HKW&S has also discovered that the shipyards at another three sites may have ceased operation. It is in the course of contacting the relevant tenants, and action will be taken to terminate the STTs and obtain possession of the sites if it is confirmed that operation has been ceased. Operation remains in the shipyards and sawmills at the remaining 14 STT sites.
My reply to the three parts of the question is as follows:
(a) DLO/HKW&S is never aware of any agreement between some of the STT tenants mentioned above and Cheerjoy Development Limited (Cheerjoy) or Sun Hung Kai Properties (SHKP), nor has the DLO/HKW&S received any agreement entered into between Cheerjoy and the tenants mentioned in the question. DLO/HKW&S' communication with Cheerjoy is limited to the company informing DLO/HKW&S that it will represent six of the tenants of the above-mentioned 14 sites to be retuned to Government soon in handling the relevant arrangements. There are also two other persons informing DLO/HKW&S that they will represent the tenants of the remaining eight sites in handling the relevant arrangements. I would like to point out that the STTs remain valid before the sites are returned to Government, and authorisation of other persons or organisations to handle matters concerning the STTs on their behalf does not breach the STT conditions.
The STTs remain valid before the 14 sites are returned to Government, and tenants shall continue to pay rent and can make other arrangements (such as security). Enclosing the sites by wire fences and erecting "Private Land" signs are not in contravention of the STT.
Also, the Lands Department indicates that its staff did not advise any person to contact SHKP (or Cheerjoy) if they wish to rent the sites.
(b) As mentioned above, DLO/HKW&S has already obtained possession of two STT sites in the area, while expecting to obtain possession of six other sites in end this month, and another eight in end August. Tenants are still required to pay rent until DLO/HKW&S obtains possession of these 14 sites, and there is at present no outstanding rent situation.
(c) Regarding the two sites already returned to Government and the six sites to be returned to Government in end this month, totalling eight sites, DLO/HKW&S is consulting the views of relevant Bureaux and Departments with regard to letting out these sites for shipyard use, so as to determine the content of the STTs to be re-tendered.
Ends/Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Issued at HKT 15:08