Donald Tsang

Accepting the drawbacks to heritage conservation

PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 February, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 05 February, 2007, 12:00am

More than half of opinion leaders are prepared to accept negative aspects of heritage conservation.

Responding to an SCMP/TNS survey, 61 per cent said increased government spending on heritage conservation was acceptable.

Fifty-six per cent were prepared to accept lower revenues as a result of more sites being protected. And 54 per cent said they would accept lower values for commercial and residential properties.

Asked what they believed the consequences of preserving heritage would be, respondents overwhelmingly believed it would enhance the city's attractiveness and enrich its culture.

Hindering development ranked as the least likely consequence.

The survey was conducted between January 22 and 25, with 25,400 people on monthly household incomes of HK$40,000 or above responding. It carried a sampling error of plus or minus 4.9 per cent and confidence level of 95 per cent.

Christine Loh Kung-wai, chief executive of the think-tank Civic Exchange, said: 'We have been talking about better urban planning, heritage and nature conservation for 20 years. Europe and our neighbour Singapore prove heritage conservation will not sacrifice economic development. It is linked to a city's vibrancy and economic development.

'Chief Executive Donald Tsang [Yam-kuen] thinks pulling down the Star Ferry pier to build a road and a shopping mall is good for us. We talk about 'let's develop our city nicely'.'

Mr Tsang said last week heritage conservation should not be carried out at the expense of infrastructure development, and Hong Kong could not afford heritage preservation if it did not preserve its economic sustainability.

Some 66 per cent of opinion leaders were dissatisfied with government performance on heritage conservation in the past 10 years.

Interviewees were asked 'What do you think are the consequences of conservation? Enhancing the city's attractiveness to tourists scored 82 per cent, enriching culture 78 per cent and enhancing aesthetic value and international images 44 and 42 per cent. Hindering development scored 15 per cent.

A Home Affairs Bureau spokesman said the study reflected recent public concern and discussion.