Remark on Kai Tak sports hub relocation a ‘personal opinion’
A housing adviser was not testing the water for the government when he suggested moving a planned world-class sports complex from Kai Tak to Lantau, he said on Wednesday.
Speaking on a radio programme, Michael Choi Ngai-min, a member of the Long Term Housing Strategy Steering Committee, said it had not been the administration’s idea when he suggested the move on Sunday, during a public forum.
His suggestion of relocating the planned sports hub to Lantau Island, to make more room for housing in Kai Tak, sparked concerns in the sporting sector and a threat of street protests.
“If my comments have divided the city, it’s my fault,” Choi said on Wednesday morning, adding that he had expressed only his personal opinion.
He said he came up with the idea after reading newspaper reports that said the government was studying the sports hub plan and the possibility of moving it to Lantau.
“I originally did not think of the sports hub,” he said. “I was only concerned about the living hardships young people were facing, and I hoped the residential area in Kai Tak could be increased.”
On Sunday, Choi suggested doubling the number of new homes planned at the old airport site to 70,000. Later a government source said relocating the sports complex to Sunny Bay, Lantau Island, was under consideration.
On Wednesday, Choi said he had raised the issue of increasing the residential area and plot ratio at the first meeting of the committee, chaired by transport and housing chief Anthony Cheung Bing-leung. But he did not mention the relocation of the sports hub in the meeting, and Cheung did not directly comment on his suggestion, he said.
On Tuesday, Choi apologised to the sports sector. He suggested a compromise, reducing the size of the sports complex by half, to make way for housing.
He also suggested reducing the open space in the planned development – which takes up 100 hectares almost one-third of Kai Tak – to make more room for housing.