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  • Dec 18, 2014
  • Updated: 8:37am
NewsHong Kong
PROPERTY

Development minister Paul Chan just ‘testing water’ on country park flats

Paul Chan trying to force public thought on land supply, says source familiar with official position

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 September, 2013, 9:00am
 

The development minister was just testing the water and forcing Hongkongers to think about realistic ways to boost land supply when he floated the idea of building flats on country park land, according to a person familiar with the government's position.

They said Paul Chan Mo-po's controversial suggestion was a "political gesture" to show the administration - under fire for failing to resolve a long-standing land-supply problem - was trying its best to address the issue.

During the exchange, someone mentioned that 70 per cent of Hong Kong's land is country parks, [and] in face of a shortage of land supply and a big housing demand ... can they not be developed at all?
Development minister Paul Chan

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Development Bureau said yesterday that in quoting opinions expressed by some participants in seminars, Chan was merely sharing these views.

"Those views do not represent the government's stance," the spokesman said.

The clarification of Chan's intentions came as Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying maintained the government had not changed its policies on country parks.

Chan wrote on his blog on Sunday that society should discuss and explore the possibility of developing country parks - an idea he said had recently been raised in seminars - as more land would be needed to reach the target of building 470,000 flats in the next 10 years.

"During the exchange, someone mentioned that 70 per cent of Hong Kong's land is country parks, [and] in face of a shortage of land supply and a big housing demand ... can they not be developed at all?"

Chan's remarks were a radical departure from Leung's pledge when he was running for election as chief executive that country parks "should be protected from development as far as possible", a view he confirmed in an interview with the Post almost two years ago.

In an article in Ming Pao in 2009, Leung wrote that most grass-roots people did not have time to visit country parks and questioned what further expansion of parks meant for them.

The person familiar with the government's position admitted that it was difficult to change policy on country parks, which are designated by law for the purposes of nature conservation, countryside recreation and outdoor education.

"The development minister just pointed out the worst scenario in the hope of forcing the public to think hard about realistic, or less desirable, options for increasing land supply."

Yesterday, the Development Bureau also clarified that only about 40 per cent of the land area is covered by country parks.

Friends of the Earth general-affairs director Edwin Lau Che-feng said building flats in country parks was not a realistic option. "The government should not attempt to encroach on country parks," he said.

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This article is now closed to comments

hardhang
Where did CY find these people ?
dascaldasf
Surely this is the last straw. He shot himself in the mouth to see whether it hurts? He should leave the administration.
ejmciii
Paul you need to become a better liar. Look to Obama or Xi for guidance. They are the gold standard.
Byebye
Do you not think "testing the water" is not really an idea, or are you talking rubbish? Please resign, minister, you do not qualify for for the role anymore because of your past acrion, and now you just "cover your own coffin" with the lack of right action.
ray1974
Plenty of golf areas to be converted, why dont we start there ? And leave the country parks alone.
caractacus
Meanwhile the Country Parks are in imminent danger from developers buying agricultural plots from indigenous villagers and the indigenous diaspora living in other parts of the world or other areas of HK making multiple applications for houses. The indigenous villagers pretend the houses are for their own use, when almost all are intended to provide a fat rental income or a windfall from sale, all organised by the Heung Yee **** and colluded in by Government, especially District Lands Offices and the Town Planning Board in the guise of "protecting" against development under a DPA. They routinely favour applicants no matter how fraudulent the application and just as routinely ignore and brush aside valid objections. In Sai Kung Country Park for example, plans are afoot to allow building of huge numbers of houses which will at least triple the size of the villages, all for greed.
Where is the protection the Chief Executive talks about?
tanrex
The biggest idiot is the Central Government having selected this cy & idiots to govern Hong Kong.

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