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NewsHong Kong

Heung Yee Kuk leader backs idea of country park flats

Lau Wong-fat urges review of protected areas, saying homes could be built on less ecologically sensitive land to ease city's housing shortage

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 September, 2013, 5:06am

Rural strongman Lau Wong-fat has suggested flats could be built in certain areas of country parks to ease the housing shortage.

He called for a review of the size of the parks, but rejected a suggestion that land allocated to indigenous villagers be rezoned to boost the supply of homes.

There's no universal standard for setting the size of country parks. It would depend on the local context to decide its proportion

Lau, chairman of the Heung Yee Kuk, said a review would help the government strike a balance between protecting the countryside and addressing the soaring demand for flats. He also said private land inside parks should be released to build more flats.

"There's no universal standard for setting the size of country parks. It would depend on the local context to decide its proportion," Lau said yesterday.

His comments came two days after Secretary for Development Paul Chan Mo-po floated the controversial idea of building flats in country parks, which was seen as a radical departure from the chief executive's pledge during his election campaign to protect parks from development.

Lau echoed Chan's view that flats could be considered in ecologically less sensitive areas of the parks. "For land [in parks] that is worth protecting, the government should specify them and compensate the owners if they are privately owned."

But he rejected outright the idea of allowing the rezoning of village land reserved for indigenous villagers to build homes. He said: "The government has plenty of land. How come it is eyeing privately owned land?"

And he expressed disappointment at the administration's failure to meet demand for homes from indigenous villagers, comparing it to the scramble to find land for urban dwellers.

Henderson Land chairman Lee Shau-kee agreed that country parks could be downsized. He said reducing the parks by one per cent could provide land to house more than 100,000 people.

But such ideas were criticised by ex-officials, including former planning director Peter Pun Kwok-shing and former Observatory director Lam Chiu-ying.

"The way we decided a country park's boundary is not science or derived from calculations," Pun said. "But I won't say it's arbitrary. We consulted the Agricultural, Fisheries and Conservation Department and other experts."

Factors taken into account included the need to protect water catchments, trees and animals, and preservation of the topography. "We need a study to justify why we need to redraw the boundaries," he said.

Lam, who helped Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying formulate the environmental policies in his election manifesto, likened the idea of building flats in country parks to a cancer cell. "If you give away 100 square feet now, later you will ask for 100 square feet more. Ultimately, it will destroy the original aim of having country parks, which is to enable the public to enjoy nature."

Green areas, including woodland, wetland, barren land and country parks, make up 70 per cent of the city's land. Country parks alone make up 40 per cent.

The new administration has relaxed its planning rules to allow flats encroaching upon green belts and open space.


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724 lots of land he owns & he was never investigated for failing to declare all of them.
"For land [in parks] that is worth protecting, the government should specify them and compensate the owners if they are privately owned." kinda says it all.
This is the guy who lost control of Tuen Mun District Council when Junius Ho beat him in a fair election in 2011, only to see devious Bowtie reappoint Lau to the same District Council where by magic he became Chairman again.
Maybe this country park $$ use will be the first motion proposed in Legco by Lau since 1998 ?
Currently there is a delegation of NT Concern Group members off to Europe looking for 'deng uk' candidates. Time that house policy was finally ditched.
Lau Wong-fat is talking in circles. He says develop country in country parks because there is not enough land. Then he says don't touch the outdated indigenous land which is being held for people not even born yet because the Hong Kong government has so much land.
This guy makes absolutely no sense at all.
The government should say "Any indinous person already born within 2013 will be included but anyone born after that will not be. They can then scale back allot of land.
Then say that all new indigenous the building must be at least 15 feet tall and have 8 apartments per floor. That each apartment is 800 SQ feet and each eligible person gets 1 flat.
Then Hong Kong will become a fairer place and there will be tons of land to build housing without touching Hong Kong precious public parks.
Greed is in the air. Hong Kongers, its time to start looking at this outdated privilege to be removed from these so called indigenous people who have now become non others than Hongkongers like us.
There are so much ideal land in New Territory being used as dump. They should be forcibly acquired for public housing in the public interest.
This guy is a crook all the way through - his only goal is protect his own land holdings...
Off course the **** wants development in the Country Parks. They want the associated infrastructure to unlock the development potential of remote private land holdings, including the large village house development areas they are being granted in the enclaves. Say goodby to the country parks.
Of course this is Hong Kong land belonging to the people of Hong Hong that is being given away for free to so called indigenous people as the Government is scared to say "No" to the rural strongman.
Not only is it being given away free it is being re-sold for many millions of $$$s that is free profit when they sell it on.
Live near your relatives is true as the relatives all live in western countries and not Hong Kong. The free millions of $$s stolen by indigenous villagers (from the people of HK) allows the indigenous to live a life of luxury in Aus, Can, US.
Lets stop HK segregation.
Universal suffrage does not mean that indigenous villagers should be allowed to elect a village head who holds all the power over those living there. Certainly not when over the years the male villagers have used their free land to generate cash and thus bring in new residents and these new residents often outnumber the indigenous villagers. Where I live the majority are non-indigenous residents and the majority of these are not expats but Chinese originally living in Kowloon or Hong Kong and even some who arrived a hundred years ago from other parts of China but are not classified as indigenous because of a not settling a few years earlier.
The point is that the free land/houses is unfair to the majority but equally damaging is the unfair and unequal political rights granted to what is now a minority to rule over the majority. There should be one village, one election, one vote for everyone over the age of 18. Then perhaps we could see the true power or not of Lau.
Lau Wong-fat is no more than a gangster who will push Hong Kong down the toilet to make a buck.
He is a segregationist who wants to create the rich who are long disconnected decedents of indigenous people and everyone else.
Reminiscent of apartheid that occurred Africa and USA 70 years ago. We should rid Hong Kong of these segmentation based on birth polices (truly is born with golden spoon rules that steal fromt he people of Hong Kong)
I was typically amused by the comments of Paul Chan concerning the building of flats in the Country Parks of Hong Kong. Indeed this suggestion has generated a lot of (adverse) comments in the on-line version of this newspaper. First of all I would like to note that Mr Chan got his facts totally wrong. Although about 75% of the 1104 square km of Hong Kong is countryside, only 44239 hectares comprise designated Country Parks and special areas: i.e. 40%, not 70%. For the Development Secretary to make such a mistake is inexcusable. On reading through the various on-line comments, the suggestion by IRDHK appears to be much more useful than Paul Chan’s attempt to destroy the biodiversity in Hong Kong. Namely, he suggests the removal of the small house policy for all of those born from now onwards and to amend the present policy so that only 10 storey buildings, each comprising 4 flats per storey, can be built. Each eligible person would be apportioned one 800 sq ft flat to live in, and they would not be granted permission to sell the flat or the land. Wake up, Mr Chan. After decades without any planning, the New Territories have become an ugly mess. There are hectares and hectares of land for development therein, but the Government does not have the courage to go ahead and do it. Why not? It sickens me to travel in the New Territories and witness the waste, pollution and unsightliness, which contrast so sharply with developed areas of Hong Kong in Kowloon and HK Island.



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