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CS hails new electoral system

The fourth wave of the COVID-19 epidemic has lasted for some time. To our great relief, the number of local confirmed cases has remained at low levels in recent days. The Government's multi-pronged strategy of continuously enhancing our anti-epidemic measures and preventing the importation of cases has proven effective.   Apart from keeping social distancing measures in place and mounting an extensive promotion of testing, we have specifically strengthened the manpower in contact tracing as this is a particularly crucial measure in cutting the chains of viral transmission.   The Department of Health's Contact Tracing Office has redoubled its efforts in speeding up the process of identifying close contacts. Their sterling efforts in contact tracing in the gym cluster last month have significantly helped in suppressing rebounds within a number of days. This was a remarkable success.   For this, I must thank all those who have helped, including some 200 colleagues seconded f

Land enforcement results notable

The Lands Department today said its Special Duties Task Force, focusing on more serious cases of government land occupation since its establishment in mid-2019, has achieved notable results with regard to land enforcement.   The department said that the task force identified 100 black spots that involved unlawful occupation of sizeable government land for brownfield operations in mid-2019.   Up to last December, it completed clearance of 77 black spots. Among these spots, as some of them also involved breaches of lease conditions governing private land, the task force has taken lease enforcement actions in parallel.   As a result, a cumulative total of more than 20 hectares of unlawfully occupied government land have been tackled, and lease enforcement actions have been carried out against 50 private lots involving lease breaches in the clearance operations, with the demolition of more than 300 illegal or unauthorised structures.   The department is confident in completing operations against the remaining black spots within this year.   The task force also assists District Lands Offices in the New Territories in handling cases of relatively serious land irregularities and other backlog cases.   The cases include unlawful occupation of government land and breach of lease conditions governing private agricultural land such as construction of residential structures, including subdivided flats, workshops or godowns.   The task force has completed 20 serious cases so far, with over four hectares of government land cleared and lease enforcement actions taken against lease breaches involving nearly 50 private lots. More than 200 illegal or unauthorised structures have been demolished.   As for other backlog cases, the task force has completed a cumulative total of over 800 cases, with the clearance of almost seven hectares of government land and demolition of more than 200 structures unlawfully occupying government land.   Of these cases, six involving failure to cease occupation of government land before the specified deadlines resulted in prosecution. Five of them have already been heard, all with offenders convicted and fined. The remaining case is yet to be heard.   As for breach of lease conditions governing private agricultural land, the task force will take further lease enforcement actions against lots with unrectified breaches, including possible re-entry of the agricultural land under the Government Rights (Re-entry & Vesting Remedies) Ordinance.   The task force will process regularisation applications involving government land and private lots which meet the requisite requirements and conditions according to the existing mechanism.   For regularisation applications in respect of government land, the department will first charge an administrative fee and recover rents at market value calculated from the date of occupation of the land. Applicants are also required to pay a one-off punitive fee equivalent to 12 months' market rent.   As for regularisation applications involving private land, the department will charge an administrative fee and a deposit, and recover from the owner the waiver fee calculated from the date of the lease breaches.   Those who unlawfully occupy government land will be liable to a fine of $500,000 and imprisonment for six months on the first occasion, and to a further daily fine of $50,000 for non-compliance with the statutory notice.

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