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A Lawyer writes about ...


Mr. Chan Bing Woon, LLB(London), SBS, MBE, JP, Hon.FIHKIH 

Being ex-Chairman of the Eastern District Board, and member of the Housing Branch's Appeals Committee, I have come across several cases of public housing resources being unfairly utilised, which have become quite prevalent these days. Reasons cited in appeals were ridiculous and absurd, e.g. an appellant's family has already emigrated, leaving his public housing unit in the care of his relatives, or appellants have already moved out of the public housing unit, living in another privately-owned property, etc., etc. to illustrate my points. 

Once there has been a complaint received by the Housing Department, referring to a unit in a certain housing block in Chai Wan, being left vacant for a long period. After 30 times' investigation into the matter, it was found that the main door was locked, with low usage of water and electricity, and no cooking utensils, nor fuel inside. In yet another investigation, it was found that the unit had already been taken over by some relatives living next door. And that family had already moved into a privately-owned property elsewhere in Hong Kong Island! When the Housing Department decided to terminate the tenancy of this unit, that tenant lodged an appeal against this decision; citing the reason being that since the majority of his time would be spent outdoors working, he had less time staying in the unit, and his relatives next door had helped him with his food preparation, which was why his unit's usage of water and electricity was low. Later on, that tenant withdrew his appeal and moved out of the unit voluntarily, which had also put a stop to the pending appeal hearing.

Another case also happened in the Eastern District. The Housing Department received a complaint that in the North Point Estate, there was a unit being left vacant for a long time. After investigation, it was found that the tenant had already emigrated to New Zealand and that tenant also owned another luxurious private property (including two car park spaces) in the Hong Kong Island, The Housing Department therefore terminated its tenancy agreement.

When that particular tenant learnt about this, he lodged an appeal against this decision, pointing out that he was being forced to emigrate out of his own will, due to the fact that his son was sick and truanted regularly; his wife got into trouble with some rascals and could not sleep well at night. Therefore, his wife and he took turns to stay in the public housing unit, until his son finishes his schooling, and they would reunite in this flat. As about his other private property, he said it was only for investment purpose.

After consideration by the Appeal Committee, as that unit had been vacant for a long time, the decision of termination of its tenancy agreement would stay. It considered that even if the tenants would move back to Hong Kong from New Zealand, they could live in their self-financed property;

In fact, these kinds of cases did not only happen in the Eastern District. There were also quite a lot of' 'occupancy-taken-by-force'' happening in other districts as well. This fact has proved that some families did not need public housing assistance at all, but they still employed different means of defending themselves, hoping they could retain the public housing unit as their own private property, or even as their life-long property - 'once moved in, settled for life'. This would amount to a waste of housing resources and a denial to others of their rights to move into a public housing unit.  May I then ask: 'Would the public housing resources be fairly distributed to those who are really in need?'

For a family that has long received public housing assistance, not to automatically return the unit, when their economic situation has improved, and they no longer need to live in such a unit, they are lack of civic duty, lack of civic knowledge, and unethical. In fact, other than retrieving their public housing unit, wouldn't it be possible to also consider penalising them in some way, e.g. paying a fine, as a warning gesture? This topic is worth widely discussed.

As a lawyer, to protect social equity and social righteousness is very important. I advocate that the Housing Department should take proper steps, to encourage those public housing tenants, who are economically-viable, to give up their units, so that those who are really in need could be arranged to move into such units.  Organizations in society should agree with the idea of a fair distribution of public housing resources, support public housing tenants' asset investigations by the Housing Department, and provide welfare for the majority of residents, who are really in need of housing.


An Arbitrator writes about . . .


HKIAC Successfully Mediates First

Lehman Brothers-Related Investment Products Case

Hong Kong.22 December 2008 – The Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre
(“HKIAC”) announced today that the first mediation of a dispute involving a Lehman
Brothers-related investment product was successfully concluded. The mediation took
place on 10 December 2008 and lasted for five hours. The mediation ended with the
signing of a settlement agreement between the investor and the bank.

Dr. Michael MOSER, Chairman of the HKIAC, said: “We are very pleased to see that the
HKIAC’s new ‘med-arb’ scheme, introduced just over a month ago, is already up and
running and producing results. This is a good start which, hopefully, will persuade others
of the benefits of the scheme.”

On 31 October 2008, the HKIAC launched a special dispute settlement scheme to deal
with Lehman Brothers-related investment products. The scheme provides for voluntary
mediation and arbitration proceedings by experts recommended or appointed by the
HKIAC. It was designed with the support of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (“HKMA”)
to provide an economical and efficient means for resolving disputes between investors
and banks that sold investment products backed by the failed US investment house.
As of 17 December 2008, a total of 63 cases have come to the HKIAC for settlement
under the scheme based on referrals made by the HKMA to the Securities and Futures
Commission (“SFC”). A number of the cases were subsequently settled by direct
negotiation between the parties prior to the commencement of mediation proceedings.
Apart from cases referred by the HKMA and the SFC following complaints by investors,
the HKIAC itself receives cases directly.

“We are glad to have the first dispute settled by means of mediation successfully and
efficiently. Investors and banks welcome the introduction of the mediation and
arbitration services for settling finance-related disputes. We also see their sincerity to
settle the disputes as soon as it can.” said Mr. Gary SOO, Secretary-General of the Hong
Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre

Address: 38/F Two Exchange Square, 8 Connaught Place, Central, Hong Kong
Tel: (852) 2525 2381 Fax: (852) 2524 2171 Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Website: www.hkiac.org
Page 2 of 2
Kong International Arbitration Centre.

HKIAC expects more cases will be coming through mediation. “Investors and banks
show their eagerness to source a suitable, efficient and effective dispute resolution
method for the disputes.” Mr. SOO continued. “We are well prepared to receive more
cases in relation to the Lehman-Brothers-related investment products disputes and we
have more than 100 mediators on the list ready for this.”

Mr. CHAN Bing Woon, Chairman of Hong Kong Mediation Council said: “We receive
many enquiries in relation to mediation everyday. We highly recommend investors to
learn more about mediation, especially understanding of mediation as well as preparation
required prior to mediation meeting, before deciding the best channel for their disputes.
About Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre

Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC) was established by a group of the
leading business and professional people in Hong Kong to be the focus for Asia of dispute
resolution in 1985. It has been generously funded by the business community and by
the Hong Kong Government but it is totally independent of both and it is financially self

HKIAC aims to assist disputing parties to solve their disputes by arbitration and by other
means of dispute resolution. It places great emphasis in providing online dispute
resolution services in a wide variety of areas including intellectual property and
information technology.

To learn more about HKIAC, please visit <www.hkiac.org>.
Media Contact
Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre
Ms. Esther LAI
Tel: (852) 2525 2381
Fax: (852) 2524 2171
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


A doctor writes about that .....

Ward off SARS wisely!!!
(Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome)


1. To isolate/segregate infectious and potentially infectious individuals
2. To minimise close and unnecessary human contact (including the reduction of unnecessary human traffic).
3. Self-protection and the protection of family members
4. Four simple but very important steps:
a) the wearing of protective masks;
b) frequent hand-washing;
c) self-imposed segregation;
d) living and working with environmental hygiene and ventilation.


  1. Avoid going to high-risk places (all hospitals) and areas with too many people. Wear an N95 or surgical mask if going to cinemas, theatres and concerts. (Surgical masks are more comfortable, but must be disposed of when wet. N95 must be worn properly without any leak. Single-layered paper masks are not effective.)
  3. Avoid restaurants that are too crowded. Avoid sharing tables with strangers.
  5. Avoid unnecessary travelling to Sha Tin, Kwun Tong, Kowloon Bay, Tseung Kwan O, or areas with many infected cases and their vicinity.
  7. Keep a mask with you and wear it in crowded places, such as on public transport, and in shopping malls and markets.
  9. Wash hands with soap regularly after touching any objects suspected to be contaminated. Wash hands before and after each meal and avoid touching your eyes, nose and lips with unwashed hands or fingers.
  11. Children and students should wear masks to school and when they go out, but must ensure they do not touch the external surface of the masks and wash hands after touching them.
  13. Since all government and private schools are temporarily closed, parents can consider minimising their children's outings by observing the above guidelines.

  1. High fever, muscle aches and chills or shivering are symptoms of significance; doctors should be consulted if they last more than 24 hours. Runny noses and sore throats are not symptoms of significance.
  3. This is also the season when people easily catch a cold or flu. Patients with symptoms of a common cold should not jump to the conclusion that they have SARS, but should consult a nearby doctor as soon as possible.
  5. If you have prominent symptoms of SARS, consult the closest doctor of your choice and wear a mask at all times. If SARS is diagnosed, you will be transferred to a designated Health Authority hospital. Also, make sure people who accompany or transport you are wearing masks.
  7. Take chest X-rays and blood tests as recommended by the doctor, and also take repeated X-rays as instructed. Rapid tests are not indicated for everyone, and are only prescribed by specialists in particular hospitals.
  9. If you are suspected of having contracted SARS, your family members and accompanying people must also wear masks when they are close to you.
  10. Cancel all social engagements and rest at home, if SARS cannot be totally ruled out by your doctor.
  12. Make a note of your activities in the past ten days, and the people with whom you have had personal contact, who may have been exposed to infection. Inform your doctor accordingly.
  14. Keep a list of your close contacts before and after the onset of symptoms, and inform your doctor if a SARS diagnosis is made.
  16. Please also follow the guidelines by the Department of Health regarding confirmed contact with SARS patients.


1. Department of Health (pre-recorded health education hotline)
2833 0111

2. Department of Health hotline for general advice (during office hours) 
2961 8968

3. Department of Health's Website (www.info.gov.hk/dh) for regular updates and health advice.

4. World Health Organization Website (www.who.int/csr/sars/en/)  or the Centres for Diseas Control and Prevention (www.cdc.gov/ncidod/sars/) for international updates and advice


An Architect writes about ...

An Architect writes about ...