• Tue
  • Dec 23, 2014
  • Updated: 10:16am
My Take
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 February, 2014, 3:25am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 February, 2014, 3:25am

Unconvincing pitch on country parks

Leung Chun-ying and his lands officials and advisers are in overdrive to prepare the public that country parks may be open to development.

Just this week, former Executive Council member Franklin Lam Fan-keung has suggested parks on Lantau are ripe for development. Lau Ping-cheung, a fellow member of the government-appointed Lantau Development Advisory Committee, suggested Hong Kong people travel to the mainland for open spaces if more country parks ended up being developed. Do these people really think they have credibility just because they carry some official-sounding titles?

All these came after development minister Paul Chan Mo-po suggested building in Lantau's two country parks would improve the environment, rather than damage it. I am at a loss as to why Leung thinks it would work out to field these unsympathetic characters to sell such a controversial plan. Chan has consistently been the most unpopular minister in the current cabinet. Lam was embroiled in political controversies which made his staying on the Exco impossible. And Lau hardly endeared himself to the public by telling people to go to the mainland if they want more space. What, to get fresher air?

Like most people, I am sceptical of the development plan, though I am not dead set against it. The devil is in the details. The scale and locations, of course, remain to be decided, though Lantau has been a main focus. But many Hong Kong people implicitly assume protection of the country parks to be part of our social contract. Given the small housing space available to most people, the general lack of urban amenities and bad air, the country parks are there to make up for the sacrifices we have been forced to make by successive administrations, especially that of Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, to pursue a policy of high land premiums.

Leung consistently claims we need more land. But many independent experts have rightly questioned whether the lack of land and flat supply stemmed from the government's control of land sales and developers' expanding land banks rather than any real physical shortage. Leung may have a legitimate case to make, but he has not made it so far. Those who speak for him are even less convincing.

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John Adams
Lau Ping-cheung's proposal that we all go off to China for our leisure and recreation is probably THE most idiotic proposal I have ever heard in over 30 years living in HK.
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I am very familiar with the Mainland, having traveled there to work 5 days / week for 25 years, and I know only too well that crossing the border to go anywhere is a pain in the neck and a r s e (not to mention the pocket) , besides taking ages.
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The idea that I take off for a day's hiking or a BBQ with my kids to some place across the border is about as impractical as saying I should go to the moon for the day.
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MEANWHILE ... back on Lantau, although I can easily get from Kowloon to Tung Chung on the MTR , can I catch a morning bus to North Lantau ? H e l l NO because of the huge crowds of mainland tourists all going to Tai O. And as to getting back from Tai O to Tung Chung on a weekend afternoon by bus - forget it . The queues are often several hundred long. Quicker to walk along the coastal path to Tung Chung.
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Seems this idiot Lau Ping-cheung is hand in hand with fellow idiot Greg So. They both want to send HK-er's to the Mainland to make more space for for Mainland tourists and jewelry shoppers in HK !.
________________
PS : I agree that there are some truly beautiful scenic places in China, but it's a 3 - 5 day trip to get there and back, certainly NOT a destination for a weekend hike
rpasea
"Leung Chun-ying and his lands officials and advisers are in overdrive to prepare the public that country parks may be open to development."
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This sums it up. First Lantau and then the other country parks.
BoSee
I think what you have here is these guys have been wheeled out to paint as dismal a pciture as possible. Thus preparing the ground, as it were, for CY to come riding in on his horse like some knight in shining armour with his own proposal, which will seem very reasonable when compared to his numpties' options.
DinGao
"Save Our Country Park" alliance includes Ark Eden, Association for Geoconservation Hong Kong, Designing Hong Kong, Friends of Hoi Ha, Friends of Sai Kung, Friends of Tai Long Wan, Friends of the Earth (Hong Kong), Green Community, Green Lantau Association, Green Power, Green Sense, Greeners Action, Greenpeace, HKWildlife.net, Hong Kong Bird Watching Society, Hong Kong Cycling Alliance, Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society, Hong Kong Outdoors, Lantau Buffalo Association, Living Islands Movement, Living Seas Hong Kong, Sai Kung Tai Long Wan Concern Group, Society of Hong Kong Nature Explorers, The Conservancy Association, World Green Organisation, WWF Hong Kong and more.
We hope that through this joint action, expressing a message to all the people: to save our country parks, every inch.
We will organize a series of activities to raise public awareness about the importance of balance between development and the environmental conservation, we will propose constructive proposal to the community, to promote Hong Kong as a world's leading cities in sustainable development.
Let's join together to take action for our home and next generation! Sign the petition at: ****www.facebook.com/saveourcountryparks
honger
The link below is an excerpt from the 2004 Audit Report concerning the change in use of land, lack of land boundaries, and lastly, the encroahment of govt land in Discovery Bay development by the developner. The development is still ongoing, with a huge tract of land now being prepared for further construction.
****www.aud.gov.hk/pdf_e/e43ch06_summary.pdf
How come the opposition nor green groups never raised this issue? The govt is plainly in collusion with the developer and does nothing while the rest of us could not even plant some banana trees outside our house since it is "government land."
caractacus
Green groups rely on being provided with local information by people like you. They are not clairvoyant. Government collusion with developers is rampant all over HK and especially in the NT.
By the way, the green groups are almost all made up of volunteers. Why don't you volunteer to do something instead of moaning?
caractacus
The Government is already destroying the Country Parks with statutory "planning" in the village enclaves by zoning huge areas for small house development without any consideration for the environment or ecological value. The Government is telling its departments, "Let the He ung Y ee K uk have all the houses it wants."
So crooked...
lexishk
No, you didn't. Because you assume that more land means each of us will experience a 50-100% increase in our living space. On the contrary, developing on the country parks would simply result in yet more apartments of the claustrophobic size that is the norm in HK today, and yet more easy, fat profits for developers.
DinGao
Beijing did not permit referenda before 1997 and it is certainly not going to permit any now.
honger
Have a look here at the beautiful golf course that is only for a very restricted few to enjoy:
****www.dbgc.hk/icms/template?series=26&article=39
Also, how come DB got to build their Bijou Chalets - almost 40 units of high end housing - on the course? Is the land for the course on loan or part of the country park? Of course, it has been extended lots since they started in the early 80s.
How about examining ALL the private golf courses ion govt leases/on country parks in HK for possible housing sites? Either that or at least, they should open the courses for public use and redesignate part/half of the courses for garden parks for the children to run about.
It is time the fatcats share this valuable resource with the rest of Hongkongers who are trapped in the concrete jungle......

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