No consistency in land supply targets

The Hong Kong government’s land planning is at odds with its promises to address the problems of an ageing population, with less than five hectares reserved for medical facilities for the next 20 years and 75 hectares planned for columbaria

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 April, 2018, 6:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 April, 2018, 6:00am

It would not be fair to blame all our housing woes on the government’s urban planners. On the other hand, some of the numbers the Planning Department has come up with defy belief and make you wonder where it is leading us.

Less than five hectares of land have been reserved for medical facilities for the next 30 years, while 75 hectares have been planned for building columbaria. At least that’s according to the chief executive-appointed Task Force on Land Supply, which has criticised the department’s forward planning.

Maybe the task force is biased in its criticism, but the numbers aren’t pulled out of thin air.

Waiting times at public hospitals are getting longer and longer. The number of people aged 65 or above are expected to double to 2.37 million in two decades. And we want to build more columbariums than hospitals?

Cartoons draw wrong conclusions on second world war

Either the department is being illogical, or something sinister is afoot. I hope it’s the former. There will come a time when the number of annual deaths exceeds that of births.

Perhaps the government is planning to cut back on medical spending on the elderly. Let them die faster; maybe even legalise euthanasia. That could slow down the rate of ageing for the population. No?

Our officials are probably not so nefarious. It will not be the first time the government’s projections don’t match its own planning. It’s more like the left hand doesn’t know that the right hand is doing.

Under the government’s self-styled visionary Hong Kong 2030 Plus, billed as “towards a planning vision and strategy transcending 2030”, officials are planning for a target population of 9 million.

Police add salt to wound of good citizens

But in the last year or so, knowledgeable critics have repeatedly pointed to the Census and Statistics Department’s own projection, that is, the local population will peak at 8.22 million in 2043 and decline as a result of an ageing population and smaller family sizes.

Perhaps our top leaders know something the lowly census people don’t know, say, opening our northern borders with the mainland. If so, we ought to be told.

The government’s land planning is at odds with its promises to address the problems of an ageing population. Its own population projection doesn’t square with its development plans.

I don’t think many people expect high competence from our policymakers. But at the very least, can they be logically consistent?