Town Planning Board a rubber stamp for the government

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 November, 2013, 4:17am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 November, 2013, 4:17am

The Town Planning Board has lost its credibility to independently represent the public interest in planning matters, which after all is its statutory purpose.

The current practice of appointing the permanent secretary for development as the chairman of the board confirms that the board is just a stepping stone for the implementation of the government's plans, no matter how publicly controversial they may be.

The recent cases of 27 Lugard Road [conversion into a hotel] and Central harbourfront have justified criticism that the board is little more than a rubber stamp.

Filibustering is a sign of a dysfunctional system, where frustration takes over from honest argument and debate.

In effect, the public is now filibustering the board as 2,000 people requested to address the meeting where the plans for a military base on the Central waterfront were discussed, but only eight of the initial scheduled speakers showed up, and they walked out due to the inflexibility and bureaucratic intransigence of board chairman Thomas Chow Tat-ming ("Angry activists walk out of talks on new PLA base", November 5).

The government and civil servants no longer respect any opposing views or community opinion, including those of the Legislative Council and district council members.

People understand that it is futile to address the board and so likewise show disrespect by creating some procedural havoc and inconvenience for these board members. In this case of the harbourfront, it is ridiculous that the board is going through such a charade when facilities at the site have already been built.

The Development Bureau and its subservient Planning Department have been acting surreptitiously, and the board will, without any doubt, rubber stamp procedural approval.

I also read the report ("Veteran activist has fought last battle", November 5).

When capable, committed and experienced moderate members of civil society such as Winston Chu Ka-sun "retire from all public affairs" because of what he described as "recent events", it is a truly sad day for Hong Kong.

This should sound alarm bells for how our city is now being (mal)administered.

Hong Kong is becoming increasingly radicalised and blindfolded and "deaf" officials are the prime cause.

Frank Lee, Mid-Levels