Refugee death in slum fire unveils a conspiracy 

Post Date: Feb 5th, 2015 | Categories: Crime, Housing, VF Report, Welfare | COMMENT

Vision First reports with great consternation that, between August 2013 and January 2015, the Social Welfare Department’s (SWD) contractor and agent, International Social Service (ISS-HK), increased collaboration with the flagrantly exploitative and reckless landlord of lot 451 (Demarcation District 106).

It appears to us that ISS-HK is fond of the false justification, which has been consequentially echoed in the media, that refugees choose to live in slums or ghettos and refuse to relocate to better accommodation because they prefer to live with their friends. This position needs to be carefully analyzed.

On 19 May 2013, the news of the existence of refugee slums in Hong Kong broke with the South China Morning Post article “Bangladeshi refugees’ unliveable conditions appalls activists”. It will soon be two years since then, over which time the Hong Kong authorities have done little or nothing to clamp down on what apparently amounts to a joint enterprise, between disburser (SWD and ISS-HK) and the landlords recipient of taxpayer money, to direct and settle refugees in openly dangerous and life-threatening agriculture and industrial infrastructures, in flagrant disregard and breach of the laws, rules and regulations governing zoning, authorized structures and fire safety.

Reliable evidence will be presented in due course to the relevant government departments to expose a business model that developed, prospered and self-reinforced, whereby the government and its agents allowed profit-generating income streams for slum lords, by way of exploiting the use of unauthorized structures erected to facilitate caseworkers’ task to settle homeless refugees with no negotiating power when ISS-HK imposed unrealistic and unreasonable rental budget limits.

Vision First contends that any person who has participated in the settling of refugees in slums up to and including the present day, should have known or have constructive knowledge of the dangerous conditions that have resulted in accidents and a recent fatality. Joint enterprise or conspiracy is where one or more persons immediately cause the actus reus of an offense, while others participate in it with the agreement to reach a specific objective, in this case the marginalization of refugees in slums.

If the joint enterprise or conspiracy is to settle refugees in slums, then it matters not which person in the conspiracy and/or joint enterprise is a SWD or ISS-HK caseworker, a real estate agent, a caretaker, a middleman or a registered owner of the slum. All parties involved are culpable.

The continued activities of SWD, ISS-HK, real estate agents, landlords and respective agents amounts to what is arguably continued criminality, while the government’s failure to carry out its legal duties can amount to misfeasance or malfeasance of public officials.

The following photos display the dangerous unauthorized structures erected between 2013 and 2015 by a landlord hellbent on profiting from rent paid by ISS-HK. It should be noted that all the refugees interviewed in this compound were on Immigration recognizance and registered service users of ISS-HK, who disbursed monthly rent assistance to this landlord (estimated at over 600,000$ yearly) presumably after carrying out due diligence with regard to accommodation and documentation.