What is the “We Deserve Better Action Group”?

The We Deserve Better Action Group has suddenly appeared out of the blue. Following distribution of their flyer to all households in DB this past week, people are asking: Who and what are they?


According to the We Deserve Better Action Group flyer, the key members are Francis and Carmen Chiu, Maggie Chan, Joe Law and Victor Riley.

These same people largely make up the Steering Committee of Love.Together@DB, a group funded by the developer of Discovery Bay, Hong Kong Resort Company Limited (HKR). According to an announcement by Tony Cheng of HKR at the COC meeting on 7 May, 2014, HKR allocated a total of $5 million to Love.Together@DB between 2012 and 2015.

6.7.6 Tony Cheng informed Members that in the past two years, HKR allocated $1.5 million annually to sponsor the Love.Together@DB community programme. In view of the most positive feedback from residents, HKR would allocate $2 million to fund the programme in the coming year. He thanked Simon Mawdsley, Francis Chiu and Maggie Chan for serving in the Steering Committee of the programme to offer advice on the types of events to be held in the past two years. In the coming year, they will continue to offer advice together with two new members, namely Mr. Victor Riley and Mr. Joe Law.

To put that amount into perspective, consider that HKR International (HKRI), the listed company that manages HKR, donated a total of $2.2 million to charity during the past two years. HKR’s donation to Love.Together@DB during that same period is almost 60% more!

Francis Chiu has been named frequently in publicity leaflets distributed around DB as the Convenor of Love.Together@DB. Both he and Maggie Chan are members of the COC.

Their involvement with HKR is a declarable relationship under the terms of the COC Declaration of Interest. The Declaration requires that members declare “any relationship of any kind with … any … company which has dealings with the City Owners’ Committee or Discovery Bay Services Management Limited.”

Whenever a matter involving HKR comes up at the COC, the Declaration would oblige Francis Chiu and Maggie Chan (as well as COC Chairman Simon Mawdsley) to declare an interest . Yet, no such declaration is recorded in any COC minutes.

The We Deserve Better Action Group’s flyer is laced with references to sabotage, obstacles, perpetual opposition, political stunts and fighting for the sake of fighting.

No one could object to the We Deserve Better Action Group’s efforts to strive for better. But why does striving for better have to be combined with such bitterness?

What evidence does the We Deserve Better Action Group have to support their claims, and who are these people who are “fighting for the sake of fighting?”

By making such unsubstantiated claims in a flyer distributed to all households in DB, whose interests is the We Deserve Better Action Group really serving?

Declaration of Interest by COC members

COC members deal with a wide range of financial matters, from review of budgets, to award of contracts, to relations between the developer (HKR), the Manager (CM) and the Owners (you and me).

Millions of dollars are involved. According to the audited accounts, the total income received by the Management Fund in 2013-14, mainly from management fees, was $169 million. This excludes renovations, which are billed separately. It also excludes internal transfers of some $19 million.

Some COC members have long considered it advisable that COC members sign a Declaration of Interest, given the duty that they have to other Owners.

For many years CM objected, stating that there was no such requirement in the Deed of Mutual Covenant (DMC). In 2011, the representatives of the Villages on the COC finally agreed to prepare a Declaration of Interest form, and encourage both COC and VOC members to sign the form on a voluntary basis. It was also decided that any COC member who wished to join a COC working group involving a major contract award would be required to sign the Declaration.

The approved form may be found here.

It has largely been left to the individual VOC chairpersons (who are all COC members) whether or not they inform VOC members of the Declaration of Interest. CM takes a hands-off attitude.

Indeed, both CM and HKR refuse to sign the Declaration of Interest. When challenged about possible conflicts of interest, HKR representatives have repeatedly said that no one has the right to prevent HKR from voting at a COC meeting.

This misses the point. A Declaration of Interest is not about depriving anyone of a vote. It is aimed at improving transparency and accountability at the COC, where many issues that impact the operation of Discovery Bay and charges levied upon Owners are discussed.

The Declaration of Interest has been been raised at a number of COC meetings since adoption, specifically at Item 3.4 on 28 March, 2012, at Item 4 on 7 November, 2012 and at Item 5.8 on 12 February, 2014.

It may be noted from the meeting on 28 March, 2012 that COC member Amy Yung sought transparency in the handling of the COC Register of Declaration of Interests, while COC member Francis Chiu raised privacy concerns.

At the meeting on 7 November, 2012, the COC Chairman confirmed that public release of the COC Register of Declaration of Interests would not contravene the Privacy Ordinance.

Nonetheless, the Register has never been incorporated in COC minutes, even when it has been presented by Powerpoint at COC meetings. Why is there such reluctance to release this information?