Confront NT land rights to preserve coastline

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 12 April, 2013, 3:12am

The Society for Protection of the Harbour completely agrees with your editorial, "Reclamation must be a last resort" (April 8), as a means of providing land for housing development.

We are disappointed that the Secretary for Development Paul Chan Mo-po has not responded to the criticisms of his ambitious proposal to reclaim more than 2,600 hectares of Hong Kong's coastal waters. This means filling in an area of our valuable seashore twice the size of Hong Kong International Airport. The secretary has failed to answer the basic question of why he is ignoring the nearly 100,000 hectares of land in the New Territories, thousands of hectares of which are available for development.

The present public consultation being conducted by the government is not genuine. It is meaningful only if the public is given an alternative. The public is not given any real choice and people are now being asked only which parts of Hong Kong's coastline they wish to sacrifice.

Therefore the government is seeking solely to pursue its policy goal to reclaim more land and informing the public of it, but without giving the public the obvious choice of supporting the development of the New Territories.

The government must face the historical problem of the legal status of the land in the New Territories and the villagers' rights sooner or later. It has already been 29 years since the signing of the Joint Declaration in 1984 whereby the New Territories became politically the same as any other part of Hong Kong.

The government has the duty to devise a solution as soon as possible such that development of the New Territories can be offered to the community as a genuine alternative to massive reclamation of our coastline.

We urge the government to give this vital issue its urgent attention with wisdom, foresight, courage and determination.

Winston K.S. Chu, adviser, Society for Protection of the Harbour