HK's natural heritage being sold for money
Wilson Fung, for Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands sought to justify the scale of the proposed Central Reclamation (letter, South China Morning Post, July 17).
Firstly, it does not need 38 hectares (about four million square feet) of reclamation to provide a waterfront and promenade.
Secondly, numerous experts including the Hong Kong Institute of Architects unanimously agree that the proposed transport infrastructure only requires half the area of the proposed reclamation.
Thirdly, the Government has planned half the reclaimed land for commercial use, but no one (neither Hong Kong people nor tourists) wants more office buildings to block the view of the harbour.
By the Government's own admission in its Legco Brief, the real reason for the excessive scale of the proposed reclamation is that the Government hopes to sell the commercial sites for $14.76 billion. Hong Kong people's natural heritage is being sold for money.
Over the past three years, our society conducted a Save Our Harbour Campaign which resulted in a petition signed by 148,041 members of the Hong Kong public being submitted to the Executive Council and the Protection of the Harbour Ordinance being passed last year. The relevant section of the Ordinance reads as follows: '3. Presumption against reclamation in the central harbour.
'(1) The central harbour is to be protected and preserved as a special public asset and a natural heritage of Hong Kong people, and for that purpose there shall be a presumption against reclamation in the central harbour.
'(2) All public officers and public bodies shall have regard to the principle stated in sub-section (1) for guidance in the exercise of any powers vested in them.' The ordinance imposes a legal duty on all public officers and public bodies to protect and preserve the central portion of the harbour.
The Government's present reclamation proposal to create land for sale to developers is therefore a direct breach of the ordinance.
Our society has written to the public officers and public bodies concerned including the Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa, the Chief Secretary Anson Chan, the Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands Bowen Leung and to all the members of the Executive Council and the Town Planning Board for an explanation.
We are also seeking legal advice.
WINSTON K. S. CHU Chairman Society for Protection of the Harbour