• Mon
  • Jul 14, 2014
  • Updated: 1:36pm
Public Eye
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 31 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 31 July, 2013, 4:08am

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


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.

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. mickchug@gmail.com



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This article is now closed to comments

$1 dollar rent for a year is absolutely ridiculous! The government rather allow the golf course open for the rich guys just for killing time, under which the golf club pockets the membership fee in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, than turn the villagers’ homeland into public housing. I do think it is an unreasonable policy not only for those affected villagers, but also for those awaiting to public housing. I support the idea of development in the New Territories to create more housing for those in need, but not going in this way.
While I agree in principle, there is quite bit of disingenuous logic here. First off, the rich guy straw-man. Who are these "rich guys" moaning about the loss of their golf course? How many are complaining, 1, 10, 100? Hardly seems worth contradicting a small group of selfish ppl rich or poor. The rich are such easy targets that the meat of your argument is lost.
Second fallacy has to do with false choices. Is it really a choice between affordable housing and golf courses? Are there no other ways to bring affordable housing solutions to HK? Off the top of my head I can think of 5 or 10. Why don't you bring a real debate to this important and complex issue.
The old Peking Golf Club (pre-revolution days) was converted into the Ba Bao Shan Cemetary for the comrades (but not the "lao bai xing")....maybe there's just something sticky about golf courses that even when you convert them the sacred ground still stays exclusionary.....
Re-reading the above article, I still think the writer is implying that the Golf courses should be paved for public housing purposes!!
So why is developing the golf course into housing, allowing developers massive profits not the same thing?
Developing the golf course into public housing, particularly public rental housing, will not allow developers to amass profits. That is not the same thing, do you agree?
Goverment now keeps sieving the poor and weak out of Hong Kong! Not rich enough? Go for the cubicle or subdivided flat! Government serves the rich with pride!
of the rich
for the rich
by the rich
even with universal suffrage installed.
totally agree with Michael !!
I like to suggest you join Legco; the Hong Kong people need people like you.
Michael is right. Given sufficient land available from the golf courses for public housing purposes, future northeast New Territories projects which are so controversial and take too long to complete should be dispensed with immediately. This is so obvious - just weigh the needs of hundreds of thousand Hongkongers awaiting for public housing allocation against the small sacrifice of some one-two thousand rich golfers. If the Government is listening to Michael Chugan, we have the much desired social harmony which is the most important of all the important as often mentioned by our Government and Motherland Government!
I think you should read Mr. Chugani's article a little more closely. Thankfully, he is no longer arguing that the golf courses should be paved over and turned into housing. He's making the more sensible point that the golf club should pay more for the privilege of using the land.
you said it too well Michael, couldn't agree more. but are we seeing changes in the near future, guess not. our government just don't have a clue what its like being government for the people, so sad


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