Waterfront park must go ahead

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 August, 2013, 3:00am


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The Society for Protection of the Harbour fully supports the laudable and determined efforts of Hong Kong Alternatives to hold the government to its promise of giving Hong Kong a cultural green park at the West Kowloon reclamation site ("Swift action needed to create world-class park at arts hub", August 6).

The reason the government gave to the Town Planning Board for the West Kowloon reclamation in the 1990s was to provide Kowloon with an open public green park of 40 hectares (about 4.5 million square feet) as the counterpart of Victoria Park on Hong Kong Island. The area was then zoned public open space.

Not 10 years later, the government changed the zoning to comprehensive development area for intensive commercial development.

This was later abandoned only as a result of the public outcry against the loss of the park.

Yet now, almost 20 years later, the promised public green park remains a pipe dream.

The government has been promising Hong Kong people ad nauseam a "world-class harbourfront" to justify reclamation of the harbour.

Yet it has just rezoned the most sensitive and prominent central part of the new Central waterfront created by harbour reclamation, from "open space" for a public promenade and park to "military use" for the People's Liberation Army.

This is the most grievous breach of promise and public trust that can be imagined and the worst town planning decision in the history of Hong Kong.

These are just two of the many examples showing there is a chasm between the government's promises and its actions.

In the saga of the reclamation of Victoria Harbour and development of the harbourfront, the government's record of keeping its promises is pathetic.

It should feel thoroughly ashamed. It only has itself to blame if, in the eyes of the public, it has no credibility.

We ask Hong Kong people to give their best support to the fervent call of the Hong Kong Alternatives to make the government keep its promise so that the open public green park at the West Kowloon reclamation site can be realised without further delay.

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