• Sun
  • Dec 21, 2014
  • Updated: 10:10pm
My Take
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 09 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 February, 2013, 5:53am

Legco gives lesson on when to stay mum

Political lesson today: how to spot a minister who is completely out of his depth. This is a topic I can go on about forever, but let's stick to a recent example, due to space constraints.

Here's a telltale sign: The minister is talking off the top of his head without the slightest idea about the implications.

Development Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po told lawmakers this week he and his bureau are eyeing some People's Liberation Army barracks to ease the acute housing shortage. He claimed his officials are open to all available options and are "working on the idea" of approaching the PLA.

Actually, lawmaker Lam Tai-fai raised the issue, but Chan apparently wanted to look clever and said he was already on to it.

Let's stop right there. Pigs will fly and hell will freeze before this happens. It's far more likely that our kind-hearted property tycoons will give up their land banks to house our poor than the PLA will give up some barracks. This is a matter that would have to go all the way to the central government and the Central Military Commission.

In other words, from Beijing's point of view, it's a matter of defence and national security, not just land redevelopment. It's also a matter of national prestige. Deng Xiaoping made it clear before the handover that whatever the British military had in Hong Kong, the PLA would have the equivalent.

Lawmaker and former security chief Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, who knows these matters, cautioned the clueless Chan that he "better not comment if he is not familiar with the background". When even a legislator takes pity on you, you know you are on the wrong track. Alas, it was too late.

I have it on good authority that senior civil servants at Chan's bureau who do know something about the issue literally fell off their chairs when they heard what Chan was saying.

The gaffe in Legco quickly prompted "a source familiar with the situation" - humm, I wonder where this mysterious source could be from - to clarify later in the night that it would be really - really! - difficult to take back PLA sites without central government approval, but the bureau is actively reviewing development potential of sites held by the government.

Paul, send your deputies to Legco next time.


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It is probably easier to move all universities in the city including hku, CityU and polyU to somewhere a new town to be developed closed to the border. I think this is better option as I don't see these schools has to be based inside the city as we can move all staffs and student together to a new university town that provide jobs and much more space for R&D n student residents. Putting them together also make more synergy. Creating a university city is better than new town like Tin Shui Wai as it did to create jobs. University new town will create plenty of service jobs.
The other is to build an old folks town to as we are going to have 30% over 65 in 20 to 30 years. This also free up space in city such as wan chai, month kok, etc that working families can move in. As I suggested earlier, old folks just need their friend together, so give them incentive to do group purchase with discount to incentive on tax, duty, utilities etc will like attract them plus give them a huge wet market. Lots of ma Jong to play too. Simple
This 2 plans will free up more city land for people who need to work and live close to the city. This will also reduce the price in the city eventually.
"Deng Xiaoping made it clear before the handover that whatever the British military had in Hong Kong, the PLA would have the equivalent."
You goofed! Deng never asked for PLA soldiers to have the same privilege to engage in Wanchai bar brawls as their British predecessors.
Bananas must be disappointed that our soldiers don't speak with incomprehensible English accents. Instead they all talk one common national dialect. Nor do they engage in fisticuffs and wreak carnage in watering holes where regular MP patrols are required.
BTW, what do those Chinese soldiers do on their nights off?
Out of sight is great as long as they show up one of these days when Hong Kong demonstrators turn into violent rioters.
It is obvious that Alex Lo was speaking only of the properties that the British garrison held in that quote, so this comment has not scored any points.
The PLA have been remarkably invisible, maybe because their Chinese salaries can't afford them the luxuries of town?


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