Public Eye

The real cost of Hong Kong Golf Club's precious land

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 31 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 31 July, 2013, 4:08am

There's this clownish argument that even though the Hong Kong Golf Club pays the government just HK$1 a year for the 170 hectares that host the three Fanling courses, members must pay through their noses to join. So what? Are the rich guys looking for sympathy? Let's get one thing straight: Public Eye doesn't give a stuff how much the rich guys pay to join so they can swing their sticks and ride around in golf carts. The fact remains that the club pays just HK$1 a year for prime land that belongs to all the people. The rich guys defending the Fanling courses also moan that they have to wait years to join. Go tell that to the struggling families in slum cubicles who wait years to get into public housing. The hundreds of thousands of dollars the membership commands go into the pocket of the club. Only one stingy dollar a year of that goes to the people. The fortune the club has amassed is spent on making the swanky club even swankier for the rich guys. They don't even have the decency to use some of it to pay for the annual Hong Kong Open, which they say is so prestigious that the Fanling courses should not be turned into land for public housing. If the tournament is so important, why don't the rich guys pay for it themselves? Why make ordinary Hongkongers fork out millions for a tournament that only a minority of rich folks care about?


And who watches the Hong Kong Open? A wealthy few

Don't believe us when we say the Open is only a snob sporting event for the wealthy few? Just compare what happened when Manchester United came to town for Monday's exhibition match with when Rory McIlroy came for the Open last year. United players were mobbed by Hong Kong fans, mostly ordinary people. And was there a mob of ordinary Hongkongers awaiting McIlroy, who reportedly received HK$6 million from the public purse for playing here? Mob, no. A bunch of snooty guys who like riding around in golf carts, maybe.


Mud pool at HK Stadium, pristine as ever in Fanling

Praise the Lord for opening up the skies all week. He sent forth heavy downpours to highlight the city's sickening inequalities. The rain turned Hong Kong Stadium into a mud pool just as we were hosting top international soccer teams. And what of the Fanling golf courses where the rich guys play? Pristine as ever. That's because the golf club pays just HK$1 a year and uses the fortune it collects from membership fees to keep the courses in shipshape condition. As for the stadium - well, it's just for ordinary folks, so the government let it rot. We believe the skies opening up was a message to our government: hit those rich golfing guys for millions - not just HK$1 - for the Fanling courses so the money can be used to turn the shame of Hong Kong Stadium into something ordinary folks can be proud of. The rain gave way to sunshine just in time for the Manchester United match with Kitchee. God does work in mysterious ways.


Time to call in a sieving expert to fix the pitch

Experts say Hong Kong Stadium would have been in far better shape if the pebbles and shells had been sieved from the sand. Stadium manager Wong Ying-ming admitted this was not done. Why didn't he seek help from the central government's liaison office director Zhang Xiaoming ? Zhang is an expert on far bigger sieving matters. He wants to sieve out undesirable chief executive candidates. Sieving out pebbles from sand would be child's play.


Michael Chugani is a columnist and television show host.