query about squatter occupancy survey | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

query about squatter occupancy survey

Hello all

 I am following up on my past research on Hong Kong squatter areas, and a key issue for me that I am hoping to find more information about is the Squatter Occupancy Survey conducted in 1984.  Previously, only squatter structures were registered, but in 1984 all occupants of squatter structures at that time were registered, with the intention that only they would be eligible for resettlement in permanent public housing through clearance.

There is surprisingly, and regrettably, very little in the HKPRO or Kew files about this Survey, and I have been searching quite assiduously.  I am wondering if anyone on this website might have personal experience with it, either through administering it, or through being registered by it.  Any information offered would be very valuable, and the assistance would be either acknowledged with thanks in the planned book, or kept anonymous, depending on your preference.

Alan Smart

Professor Emeritus

University of Calgary


Hi Alan, 

I like looking over Gwulo very much, but this is my first post. So - hello to the community. 

Can I suggest you make contact with my father Prof Denis Dwyer, now aged 87 and retired in the U.K. He retired early but was a specialist in Social Housing and Urbanisation in developing countries in the 1960s through to 1990s I think. He was Prof and Head of HKU Geography and Geology Depts from the early 1960s to early 70's. His studies took him from Indonesia, to South America and the Indian sub-continent studying mass urbanisation and the problems associated with it - particularly housing and other urban problems and solutions from the early 1960s! 

He does not talk about it much, but from what I understand he was in the right place at the right time for HK. As was the way back then, Colonial Governments were 'small', so they often relied on knowledgeable none Government residents ( my father ? ) or grandees ( not my father ! )to do stuff. 

I was too young to have direct first hand knowledge of this, but I am informed by old hands in the urban planning field that his books and he were pretty influential in the clearance and re-housing program including Wah Fu estate in Pokfulam and Shatin New Town etc. There appears to be some credence to this as I know he ended up on the Town Planning Board in the 1970s handling this type of development work. 

No idea if he can be of assistance to you, but if you would like to make contact with him, please do let me know via this forum. 

Good luck,



Dear Paul

  Thank you for the suggestion.  I have met Denis a few times over the years, including in England once, and continue to cite some of his publications.  I'm pleased to hear that he is still well, as we had been exchanging Xmas cards for a while, but haven't heard anything for a while.  I don't seem to have his email address now, so if you could share it, that would be great.  You can contact me off-forum at asmart@ucalgary.ca




I personally know of two squatter huts in the Southern District that we’re rebuilt after 2000 based on the claim from that survey - with Government approval. Both were then expanded far beyond what was legally allowed.


One is at 56 Tai Tam Tuk. 

Hi Alan, 

Great to heat you have that base covered for your research. 

I shall contact you on your email with his contact details and update.