People’s Liberation Army sites in urban Hong Kong could be used for housing

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 October, 2017, 5:05pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 October, 2017, 7:47pm

Social and political tensions in Hong Kong are directly related to the quality of life and the aspirations of our young people. It is the responsibility of our leaders to deal with the causes, not lash out at the victims who protest against injustice and unfairness.

The Occupy Central protest was triggered by the ham-fisted efforts of local and mainland officials to cripple attempts at political reforms which would have made our administration more accountable. Instead of getting officials who would respond to our needs, especially on land and housing, we were forced to swallow the same stale medicine that causes disorder.

Why do we have overcrowding and exorbitant real estate prices? The answer is simple, too many people. And this is because we are required to accept 150 mainlanders a day who need housing, who compete for jobs and who apply for social welfare. In other words, we need to serve over 54,000 new arrivals annually. At an average of four people per flat, we must supply 13,500 new homes per year over what is needed for our natural population increase. Why haven’t our officials held meetings with the central government to rectify this Basic Law blunder and reduce this burden?

Another area that should be checked is the supply of underutilised land controlled by the PLA. There are hundreds of hectares occupied by barracks, firing ranges, parade grounds, old forts and old runways left behind in 1997 by the departing British. Since the PLA fears no foreign invasion, these resources can be returned to civilian use. A small garrison and naval force will assert sovereignty.

Many PLA sites in urban areas are extremely valuable. Their sale would help to keep down taxes and provide much-needed land for housing, offices, schools, parks and other amenities.

Even if only 10 to 20 per cent of PLA land was made available, Hongkongers would see the central government as being supportive of our needs.

Reclamation of the sea should not be a high priority when idle land is readily available.

Social tensions arise when leaders support outmoded ideas and old privileges, rather than accept more inclusive systems. Criticising victims, especially youths with a bleak future, for objecting to being neglected is useless.

After all, socialism and communism originally meant serving the people, not rich landlords. Do we have to choose between raw capitalism or raw socialism?

Jason Kuylein, Stanley