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  • Apr 25, 2014
  • Updated: 5:03am
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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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.
artdig18
There are still far too many completed flats that the property developers and "investors" leave lying empty ... look at Harbourside in Kowloon it must be 10 years old and yet the developer still have not sold all the flats and they are still many empty flats.
In addition, there are developer's land banks that have not been developed for various reasons ... there should be a comprehensive report on this before we turn to country parks. If country park land are used the sale of the property must be restricted to HK residents only and the size of property needs to be bigger than the present shoe boxes.
Development of a new stadium in Kowloon is this really good use of the land when we have the HK stadium already.
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
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...
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?
Giwaffe
First, I'm going to raise the point of setting a population growth target of negative or zero to reduce the burden on infrastructure. That is the core of the problem. As it is, there are simply too many bodies in this SAR. Don't get me wrong, I am not asking anyone to leave, but let's not add to the problem by allowing 150 new migrants a day and spawning like crazy. Let the population slowly decrease through attrition. Not convinced? Simple thought experiment: if HK's population were 3.5 million, then living space would be doubled, wait times at on transportation infrastructure,--such as Admiralty MTR--would greatly reduced (ignoring the impact of tourists), etc.

Second, I believe the opposition is against development encroaching on country parks. Building on Lantau, such as along Lantau Link/Tung Chung MTR line, seems perfectly reasonable.
SpeakFreely
If hk is still a democratic society, let's do a referendum asking: a) if people want to keep green land, parks, etc or b) to increase all people living space by say 50% or 100% like what singapore did. What would you think people will be voting for? I love nature, running and hiking, and living in a space of around 2000 sq ft. I even make compose by collecting waste vegetables as recycle. But I still vote for more space (b) and willing to have less green land as I believe many hk people are still living poorly. And is not fair. I think many of you will vote (a) because you are living comfortable already, and you are the little privileged group who could afford the time to go hiking Saturday and Sunday. Plus you are very selfish as more land will reduce the price of your property you own. Did I say the right thing?
DinGao
Beijing did not permit referenda before 1997 and it is certainly not going to permit any now.
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.

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