28 October 2016
People hold aloft banners in a demonstration Tuesday against Link REIT's business practices. Photo: Au Lok-hin/Facebook
People hold aloft banners in a demonstration Tuesday against Link REIT's business practices. Photo: Au Lok-hin/Facebook

Pan-democratic groups rally against ‘bloodsucker’ Link REIT

Dozens of people staged a protest against the Link Real Estate Investment Trust (Link REIT) on Tuesday, decrying what they called the property management firm’s “merciless” and profiteering attitude. 

Accusing the firm of causing hardship for small shop operators by selling properties to speculators, outsourcing management of wet markets and demanding higher rents, the demonstrators called on Link REIT to change its ways.

The protesters comprised members from several pan-democratic groups, including Hong Kong Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihood, Neighbourhood and Worker’s Services Centre, the League of Social Democrats, and the Democratic Party.

The demonstration began at around 9 am and lasted for nearly 7 hours at Link REIT’s headquarters in Kwun Tong, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported.

Some protesters barricaded the reception desk and entrances of elevators in the building, chanting slogans and holding banners that read “bloodsucker”, among other things.

The event saw some scuffles break out. A female employee of Link REIT was sent to hospital after she claimed that she was pushed down to the ground, causing her to faint.

Meanwhile, some protesters took an elevator and went up to the company’s office on the 33rd floor, where they demanded a meeting with Link REIT’s chief executive George Hongchoy Kwok-lung.

But they were unable to meet him as the CEO was allegedly on leave.

Protesters left the building only at around 4:30 pm after a company spokesman promised that a meeting will be arranged with Hongchoy no later than May 6.

Stall operators who had been affected by Link REIT’s property renovation work are welcome to attend the meeting, the spokesman said.

Claiming that Hongchoy is open to rational discussions, Lo Bing-chung, Link REIT’s director of corporate communications and external relations, said the CEO had met members of pan-democratic groups more than 10 times in the past.

Lo added that he hopes the protesters’ “misunderstandings” can be cleared up through a meeting, Apple Daily reported.

Meanwhile, he criticized the protesters for disturbing normal office work at the building. Some groups may be just trying to get media exposure by causing trouble intentionally, the official said.

Au Lok-hin, a Southern District Council member from the Democratic Party who participated in the demonstration, urged Link REIT not to break its promise with regard to a meeting with Hongchoy.

Unless the company comes up with an acceptable solution, the groups could escalate their protests, he warned.

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