• Tue
  • Oct 21, 2014
  • Updated: 10:05am
My Take
PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 February, 2014, 3:05am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 February, 2014, 5:38am

Hong Kong Town Planning Board decision on PLA harbourfront site is highly flawed

I stand corrected. I once through this column called the Town Planning Board a government lapdog and rubber stamp, which provoked an angry reply from its chairman. I was wrong. It is worse; it's just another government department - nay, a sub-unit - in all but name.

On Friday, it reached a decision to approve a ridiculous plan to rezone a large chunk of the Central harbourfront as a military site for the People's Liberation Army's dock. In doing so, it has proved beyond doubt it is nothing but an instrument of the government. After all, the board's chairman is Thomas Chow Tat-ming, the Permanent Secretary for Development (Planning and Lands), so what do you expect? It appears he has ambitions to match the extreme unpopularity of his boss, Paul Chan Mo-po.

The zoning plan, now approved, was flawed from the beginning. It met with more than 19,000 public objections, which Chow and his gang duly ignored. As a result, while the dock area of 0.3 hectares being converted from open space to military use has all along been considered "sometimes for PLA use, but mostly for public use", it's now under garrison rule, outside of Hong Kong jurisdiction. Well done, board members. Does the PLA now control the area even during periods when it is open to the public? It would seem so.

The zoning issue arose because of a 1994 agreement between Britain and China over garrison sites in Hong Kong. It covered dozens of sites, one of which is the Prince of Wales Barracks. It promised to reserve 150 metres from the Central and Wan Chai reclamation, understood to be for PLA facility use. So why not just zone this space for the garrison while preserving the rest of the area up to the water's edge as public space? That would preserve the area as part of a continuous waterfront promenade. But the original zone planners and now the board members consider the priority of the area to be military, even though the area is supposed to be open most of the time to the public except when the garrison decides to use the facilities.

I have no doubt the garrison commander is more than capable of exercising discretion and common sense. It is wholly unnecessary that he should be handed this new power.


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This article is now closed to comments

PLA’s presence in Central seems sensible and reassuring
as democrazy gets more and more vociferous and ridiculous
Mr. Lo nees to learn how to discuss issues rationally and calmly. Using virulent expressions like lapdog, ridiculous and gang does not add merit to Mr. Lo's argument.
Mr. Lo wrote about the rezoning of "a large chunk of the Central habor front." Turns out that this large chunk is 0.3 hectares.
And where was Mr. Lo when the British had HMSA Tamar on the waterfront for many years?
What is all this fuss? The British had HMS Tamar on the waterfront for many years.
"Rezone a large chunk of the Central harbourfront" is an exuberant comment IMHO. The whole reclamation project I understand is 20 hectares of reclaimed land therefore 1.5% (0.3 hectares) of the reclamation is in question. If you take Central as a whole the percentage is even lower.
so why did the lead article on this suddenly disappear from news pulse? SCMP - pls advise...
Not sure which article you were referring to but the order of stories on NewsPulse is based on their "popularity" - pageviews, social media shares, etc; it is not manually controlled by editors. If you kindly let us know the headline or content of the article we can locate it and share the URL with you. Thanks.
This is a ridiculous decision made by ill minded officer.
Who had put a military installation in the center of business district ever? I surely not seeing any in Beijing or Shanghai!
Is there a way to overturn this ridiculous???
Try googling Military base Darling Harbour Sydney Australia
only a repressive regime, typically untrusting of its own people and institutions will have a military camp in the middle of a city downtown. And now they will have their own access to water, private beach maybe ? HongKong has one of the most stunning waterfront urban landscape and so far one of the worst in terms of organization and management of this facility for people to enjoy. At least, what's left of it.
I think most major cities in the world have some military presence ... try googling a major city and military base.
Move the garrison to Stanley and let the PLA reap the profit from selling the development rights at Tamar.


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