How to make property and handouts do good work for the community

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 April, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 April, 2011, 12:00am


Jake van der Kamp has put the finger on colonial land policy ('Blame history, not Li Ka-shing for HK's tilted property market', April 10) as the cause of the aberration in the property market.

But what if our government modified our land policy and conducted an experiment?

Instead of inviting tenderers to buy leasehold land, what if the government invited master planners to submit proposals on use of a specific parcel of land?

They could invite architects to submit designs - on 'green' criteria, for example - for a mixture of low, middle and higher income housing, according to a selected master plan.

Or they could invite contractors to tender for construction of specific lots of buildings. They could pay all the parties who participated, which would be much better than giving handouts.

Now as 'developer and owner', the government could set affordable rents for different classes of housing.

In lieu of the revenue from sales of leasehold land, the government would also have a recurring stream of income long-term. If authorities outsourced building maintenance to the private sector, they would further benefit the economy.

And instead of government handouts, what if we created a voucher system of payment for community services rendered?

How about women and the elderly providing babysitting services in their neighborhoods, and then turning in the vouchers they received for payment from the government?

This type of social initiative could give the elderly an income and provide care for the young children of parents who are holding down two jobs, or while the stay-at-home parent has to run errands is doing good work.

Let our social services organisation demonstrate what a splendid job it is capable of doing. I would forego my HK$6,000 to see this happen.

There was a time when government was run with civility.

Let us demonstrate good behaviour and courage also do good work.

Liu Meung-ta, Pok Fu Lam