Land supply strategy consultation still skewed in favour of vested interests

PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 21 September, 2012, 1:05am

I refer to the letter from Edwin K.H. Tong, of the Civil Engineering and Development Department ("Officials must keep all land bank options under consideration", September 11).

Again we have the administration making misleading statements in its pursuit of plans for reclamation outside Victoria Harbour.

Mr Tong says that the majority of responses to the Stage One public engagement on enhancing land supply strategy "either supported or indicated no objection to enhancing land supply using a multi-pronged approach, which includes reclamation". On behalf of the many people who attended the discussion groups, forums and Legco hearing, I would refute this claim. The only support for reclamation came from the stage from Raymond Ho Chung-tai, now ousted from the Legislative Council engineering seat, and Franklin Lam Fan-keung, property investor, now a member of the Executive Council. Residents from many of the districts named as potential reclamation sites were vocal in their opposition.

Because of the strong level of dissatisfaction, some of the proposed reclamation sites will be removed from the list. Residents at Wu Kai Sha were particularly vocal in defending their beach from annihilation. Unfortunately, not all of the sites have a well-organised local community to defend them.

While Mr Tong mentioned the other options, "rezoning, redevelopment, resumption of land, rock cavern development and reuse of ex-quarry sites", the only option highlighted was reclamation. We again are told this option "can also help resolve problems associated with surplus public fill and contaminated mud". A number of sites will be proposed in Stage Two of the public engagement to be launched later this year. Note there are no lists put forward for rezoning, redevelopment or resumption.

Once again we must question why other options are not being explored.

These include, for example, administrative measures to encourage developers to use their land banks and release 250,000 currently vacant flats and a review of the policies hindering rezoning and land assembly. With our large budget surplus, there is no lack of funds to engage the expertise required to resolve these issues.

But the Development Bureau wants to take the easy way out so concerned residents will have no option but to dedicate their spare time for months to come listening to the same old flawed arguments and combating deep-pocketed vested interests.

Mary Melville, Tsim Sha Tsui