• Sun
  • Apr 20, 2014
  • Updated: 12:45am
Public Eye
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 July, 2013, 4:38am

Golf course highlights city's unfair ways

BIO

Michael Chugani is a Hong Kong-born American citizen who has worked for many years as a journalist in Hong Kong, the USA and London. Aside from being a South China Morning Post columnist he also hosts ATV’s Newsline show, a radio show and writes for two Chinese-language publications. He has published a number of books on politics which contain English and Chinese versions.
 

Ordinary Hongkongers complain about our unfair society, but just how unfair is it? This much: the Hong Kong Golf Club pays the princely sum of HK$1 a year on top of a one-off 20-year land premium of just HK$1,000 for its 170-hectare Fanling golf course, used by about 2,000 of Hong Kong's richest men. The poorest in our city pay HK$1,500 a month for a bed space smaller than a coffin in the slums of Sham Shui Po. An ordinary Hongkonger pays the government a HK$19 entrance fee to use public swimming pools. Again, the Fanling golf course pays the government HK$1 a year for rich guys to play.

An elite American business college, Chicago Booth, has secured a grade-three heritage site on Mount Davis as a campus for a one-off land premium of HK$1,000 for 10 years. The university will charge HK$1.2 million tuition fees. Needless to say, those sleeping in bed spaces smaller than a coffin won't be able to afford it. Chicago Booth will be for rich folks, just like the Fanling golf course.

About half of the 28,418 secondary school pupils who achieved the minimum score last week to enter university won't be able to do so. That's because the government has only 15,000 subsidised first-year university places. If the grandmothers and grandfathers of those who lose out can scavenge enough discarded cardboard boxes, they might just about be able to afford the HK$1.2 million tuition fees at elite colleges.

So here's the deal: if you're rich and powerful, you get heavily subsidised golf courses. If you're an ordinary Hongkonger you don't get heavily subsidised swimming pools. If you're an elite university catering to rich folks, you get subsidised land. If you're an ordinary Hongkonger who has struggled hard to qualify for a subsidised university place, you can forget about it. You want to know how unfair our society is? This is how unfair.

 

No putts - let the children play ball instead

Secretary for Development Paul Chan Mo-po insists that Fanling golf course does not offer an alternative to seizing land from villagers in the New Territories for the government's two new towns. He says they will consider taking back the golf course to build other towns later.

Why wait? The government can resume the land after one year's notice. There are 170 hectares of lush green space out there. Why waste it on a couple of thousand rich guys swinging sticks and riding around in golf carts when tens of thousands more jostle for scant sports facilities? Just look at Wan Chai's Southorn Playground.

Take the golf course back now and turn it into a temporary giant open space where children can kick a football, picnic with their families or fly a kite. If Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying dares to do that, his dismal poll numbers will shoot up.

 

Lunchtime missile crisis averted as radicals miss out

Phew! Nothing more drastic than protest papers. Public Eye had feared bananas would be hurled at liaison office director Zhang Xiaoming during his unprecedented lunch with legislators yesterday.

"Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung and Albert Chan Wai-yip handed over their protest stuff civilly before walking out. Their loss. Dialogue is a two-way street. Zhang had finally agreed to listen to even the so-called radical legislators. Reciprocity would have been the decent thing. The other pan-democrats wisely stayed. Next stop: lunch at the liaison office?

Michael Chugani is a columnist and TV show host. mickchug@gmail.com

 

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hkiedlib
N
XYZ
The golf courses are environmental assets. They should be cherished and preserved. However, improved public access is essential. My proposal is that the Golf Club should, entirely at its own expense, convert one of the three golf courses to a public course, build a separate clubhouse and other facilities for it, and then manage and maintain the course for the public, all at its own expense. On that basis and as part of the deal, I would then be in favor of allowing the club to purchase the remaining two golf courses as agricultural land and forbidding development on any of the 170 hectares, thus preserving all three courses for future generations.
22gt7
The purchase price must be in Market value and the proceeds should all be earmarked for public housing purposes. 170 hectares should fetch about, hmm.. 170 hectares = 1,700,000 sq metres @ HK$2,000 - 4,000 per sq m = HK$ 340 to 680million. Together with the market value of other golf courses, the public housing expenditures will be subsidized by more than HK$1,000 millions. Then all, including the F.S., will be happy!
XYZ
Is that the approximate cost of agricultural land? I don't know. If we accept those figures, the 170 hectares comprise all three golf courses, whereas I'd give up one of the courses (one-third of the land) for a public venue. That might bring the purchase price of the remaining two courses to $250M - $450M. Current debentures at HKGC are priced at $10M. If they sold 50 new membership at current prices, they could pay for to courses; 75 and they could pay for all three, assuming your per sq m costs are correct.
bolshoi
For those waving British colonial flags at protests, the golf course is surely a legacy left by your masters who, you apparently think, cared so much more about you average Hongkongers than the Central Government does. Think again stupid! Hong Kong is a sickeningly unfair society because the British rulers intended to make it that way.
honkiepanky
The British left 16 years ago. And the reason things haven't changed is...?
bolshoi
@honkiepanky: 五十年不变 - Glad you asked. :)
aplucky1
sometimes I wish the mainland would take control of hong kong
they would use that golf course for something more productive without doubt
so tired of the filthy rich scoffing at the lower classes
xres625e
diaff thx
chaz_hen
Yeah! In a heartbeat the CCP would turn that place into a luxury villa development with 3 meter high walls for the sons, daughters and assorted cronies of the top ruling class.

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