'Metropolis' urged for Lantau
A Lantau authority should be set up to turn the island into a new 'metropolis' to help Hong Kong keep pace with fast-growing cities on the mainland, a business alliance says.
The Lantau Economic Development Alliance said it would remind chief executive-elect Leung Chun-ying to live up to his promise of setting up a Lantau authority to make the best use of resources on Hong Kong's biggest island.
The alliance was formed last year by nine businesses on Lantau, ranging from Hong Kong Disneyland, the Ngong Ping 360 cable car and AsiaWorld-Expo to the Heritage Conservation Foundation, which turned the 110-year-old Tai O police station into a boutique hotel.
A 17-strong delegation paid a field visit last week to key development zones in the Pearl River Delta: Qianhai, Nansha and Hengqin. The Hong Kong government is consulting the public on the possibility of a railway linking Qianhai with Hong Kong airport, while Hengqin is within an hour's travelling time of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge, which will link Zhuhai with Lantau when completed in 2016. Li Yan-tai, the alliance's honorary secretary and leader of the delegation, said its members were impressed by the ambitious plans of the governments in the places they visited.
'Integration [in the Pearl River Delta] is inevitable,' Li said. 'The question is how will Hong Kong play a part? Hong Kong has to integrate [with neighbouring cities]. Otherwise, we will only see economic activity shifting northward.'
Li said the alliance believed that Lantau - as home to the world's third-busiest international passenger airport and the landing point of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge - had the potential to become a new 'metropolis', a commercial-tourism hub in the Pearl River Delta and the powerhouse of Hong Kong's future development.
He said the alliance would conduct further research and gather public opinion before submitting a proposal to Leung later this year.
Li said the alliance's top priorities included setting up a cross-departmental Lantau Authority, on which tourism, transport and lands officials would sit together to make decisions about the vision and master plan for Lantau in Hong Kong's future.
He said Leung had promised such an authority when they met earlier this year and pledged to 'rearrange' the functions of New Territories West and Lantau 'to improve our competitive edge' in his election manifesto.
The alliance will also propose upgrading facilities around the airport to create more business, such as turning the golf course next to AsiaWorld-Expo into a commercial complex with malls, offices and flats.
Li said that while it was aware of possible risks ahead, the alliance was not pessimistic about Hong Kong's future, because it believed its free economy and independent judiciary would continue to attract business.
However, other members, including Anna Hong, deputy general manager of Shun Tak's jetfoil business, said time and land resources were running out for the city. 'Given the excellent geographical location of Lantau [on the Pearl River estuary], it may be one of the few pieces of land we have left for development.'