Lau a useful 'poster boy' for mismanaged New Territories

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 October, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 October, 2010, 12:00am

I disagree with the many calls for Lau Wong-fat's resignation. He is far more useful retaining his many positions within the Heung Yee Kuk and government. With Tai Long Sai Wan, we have for the first time in 40 years entered a period when the community is ready to stand up to the mis-management of our scarce land resources in the New Territories.

We need the entire community in Hong Kong to understand that this is not just a government failing to apply appropriate planning and development controls, but a complete failing of the Heung Yee Kuk to act in a responsible manner. And what better way is there to achieve this than having Lau - also known as a poster 'child' - right up there?

I have no qualms with his success and ability to achieve great personal wealth from his hard work and smarts - good on Lau and blessed are his offspring. But for all this devotion, his leadership of the New Territories has hardly created a great living environment reflecting Hong Kong's incredible natural resources and sub-tropical climate.

The New Territories is covered with illegal roads, developments, graveyards, columbariums, open container storage and villages grown as cancer cells without proper roads and services.

All the Heung Yee Kuk has to show for itself is that it has been able to push up the value of low-quality agricultural land lots to stratospheric levels, as is reflected in the ex-gratia compensation rates for resumed land. In fact, maybe it is time for the government to roll Lau out again to negotiate with his 'people' on how they may be willing to move their village for rail or other developments.

When Choi Yuen villagers [had to make way for a rail development], his 'compromise' solution, to much acclaim, was to double the value of their compensation - indirectly doubling the value of his own holdings. There was no conflict of interests: his interests were exactly the same!

No, I like Lau to stay on. It helps the common man in the street to understand how blindingly stupid it is to ask the leaders of the Heung Yee Kuk to negotiate on behalf of the people of Hong Kong with the people of the New Territories.

Hold on to your seat, Lau Wong-fat: we need you there.

Paul Zimmerman, chief executive, Designing Hong Kong