Administration must tell us why it so badly wants to sell Government Hill

PUBLISHED : Friday, 06 January, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 06 January, 2012, 12:00am


I refer to Bernard Chan's article ('Unease about rich-poor gap fuels proxy war over heritage', December 30).

It is said that a first generation, living in poverty, sees old buildings as having no value; only the land has value. Its children, the second generation, sell the buildings and land so they can move from poverty into the middle class. Those in the third generation, after benefiting from a better standard of living, step in to preserve what is left of their heritage for themselves and their children. It happens the world over, including in Hong Kong. It is the normal evolution of a developed society.

The government still thinks like the first generation, raising fears of poverty while having a massive surplus.

Mr Chan of the Antiquities Advisory Board seems to have one foot in the second and one in the third generation and is bemused by both. But Hong Kong people are now firmly in the third generation. The Government Hill Concern Group agrees with Mr Chan that the masks must be taken off so we can find out what is really going on with the administration's obsession to sell Government Hill.

It is not the need for grade-A office space. The government has several sites not of historic interest in the central business district that could be redeveloped. Nor does it need the money, as has been proved by the gift of HK$6,000 to all adult permanent residents.

It is not that it has no use for it. Many government departments and related organisations could use the west wing and save the rent they now pay to private landlords.

The business sector is not particularly interested in the proposed single block. It wants a new business district in Kai Tak.

It is not the need to eradicate any vestige of a colonial power. If that were the case, it would sell the entire Government Hill site.

Those who like conspiracy theories would look at the map and think there is only one developer that would significantly benefit from acquiring all land from Ice House Street to the present Court of Final Appeal building to expand its holdings on Garden Road.

Preserving heritage is not whimsical nostalgia. It is our duty to present and future generations.

So we join with Mr Chan and ask the government to tell us the real reason for this obsession with selling our birthright, our heritage, our Government Hill, when there is no good reason for doing so.

Katty Law, convenor, Government Hill Concern Group