The concern group Designing Hong Kong says it has uncovered evidence that the government’s Small House Policy is being abused in the Sai Kung Country Park, with illegal collusion between indigenous villagers and developers.
The policy allows each male indigenous villager to build a three-storey house on his ancestral land. The right cannot be transferred to others.
But Designing Hong Kong said it has found cases in the enclaves of Tai Tan, Uk Tau, and Ko Tong where developers had acquired land and then bought the so-called "ding right" (village land right) from indigenous villagers, in order to build small houses that could be sold at a huge profit.
Its chief executive officer Paul Zimmerman said if there was no crackdown on such fraudulent applications, the territory's country parks could face destruction.
He added that signs of abuse were easy to spot, if people searched for them. Zimmerman said it was just a question of the relevant government departments using information which was readily available.
The policy was officially implemented by the colonial government in 1972. It became a hot political issue last year after the District Court sentenced 11 villagers and a developer to jail for a property scam linked to it.
In his judgement, Judge Sham Siu-man said the case clearly showed the policy was not working. He said the villagers had no intention of abiding by the law and only wanted to sell their land rights.
But the powerful rural body, the Heung Yee Kuk, expressed displeasure at the judgement and said it will fight for the villagers' rights, which it stressed were constitutionally protected.
The Chief Executive, CY Leung, said earlier this year that there was a need to review the policy. He said it had a complex history but the review was necessary in light of Hong Kong's pressing need for more developable land.