• Sun
  • Dec 21, 2014
  • Updated: 7:42am
NewsHong Kong

Farmland may be another option to ease land crisis, says Exco’s Bernard Chan

Alternatives should be considered along with the country parks, Exco member Bernard Chan says

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 September, 2013, 12:21pm


  • Yes: 57%
  • No: 43%
12 Sep 2013
  • Yes
  • No
Total number of votes recorded: 332

Executive councillor Bernard Chan has waded into the controversy over where to find land to build more homes.

He urged a debate on alternative options to boost supply, not just by cutting into country parks but by including other land such as farmland.

When the city's population is jammed into 6.9 per cent of the land, the living conditions are going to be bad. Society should conduct an informed discussion about what we want. You can't have everything

He was shocked to learn that less than 7 per cent of Hong Kong's total land area was zoned residential and said an informed discussion was needed.

Chan is the first Exco member to respond to a blog post on Sunday by development minister Paul Chan Mo-po that the city could consider using sections of country parks for housing.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said the government had made no decision on use of the parks, but remained firm that flat-sale duties introduced to cool the housing market would stay.

"When the city's population is jammed into 6.9 per cent of the land, the living conditions are going to be bad," Chan told the Post. "Society should conduct an informed discussion about what we want. You can't have everything."

But he said the public should not focus only on country parks, which comprise about 40 per cent of the city's area. "Country parks included, [the green belt] comprises more than 60 per cent of the area. Other land uses, such as farmland, can be discussed."

Chan said he loved the parks. "Of course I want to keep them. But it is something society has to debate. [Can we discuss ] reclamation, or farmland, or industrial zones for residential use?"

Housing Society chairman Marco Wu Moon-hoi said the ratio of country park land was negotiable.

"Must we always only contemplate the idea of expanding country parks, but can never cut into the country park land?"

Leung said the question of whether flats could be built in country parks had been floated from time to time and the government "has no decision so far".

He also insisted the government would not back down on its doubling in February of the stamp duty on flat purchases.

"Any form of change, such as exemptions or a tax rebate, would reduce the impact of the doubling of stamp duty, affecting the stability of the financial system and the property market," he said.

Leung was responding to calls for exemptions for charities and religious groups and Hongkongers buying flats via companies.

He said: "After consideration we found it is not easy for [any exemption] not to be exploited."



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This article is now closed to comments

How many government officials does it take to change a lightbulb?

We have now had three senior government officials in less than a week doing little more than listing the options. We could develop the country parks. Or we could not. We could reclaim more land. Or not. We could rezone farmland. Or not.

Messieurs, these have ALWAYS been the options. For decades. We know that, thank you.

Now start -finally- doing what you are supposed to be doing: come up with a comprehensive, realistic plan of action to allocate sufficient land to build the 470k flat you target in the coming 10 years. Geez, what does it take to wake you up and make you do your job?

[He was shocked to learn that less than 7 per cent of Hong Kong's total land area was zoned residential]

How clueless can you be? And this is not somebody random interviewed on the street. This is the a man who is supposed to be making policy. He should know these things better than anybody else. Unbelievable.
Stop the population growth, stop the pressure on our meager resources. Ruining Hong Kong is no solution.
Our immigration laws must also be reviewed. This too (and foremost) is a controversial issue that Exco members should ask the public to debate. Moving into farmland has to be done cautiously as this would lead to a stampede of illegitimate private purchases for redevelopment purposes. Lastly, I should add [and stress] that Country Parks are virgin land and once it's gone, it's gone forever - no matter how much one says he/she 'love' country parks and the often misguided quoted 'last resort'.
John Adams
Question : "How many government officials does it take to change a light bulb?"
Answer : 160,001
1 to hold the light bulb ( i.e. Fat Lau) and 160,000 to turn the room round
Debate? I think Hong Kong people would love a debate and a be allowed to directly vote on these matters. How is this for a question:
1. Do you favour
(a) keeping Hong Kong's country parks and agricultural land and thus reducing immigration, or
(b) building housing in Hong Kong's country parks and agricultural land and maintaining or increasing immigration.
Guess which one Hong Kong people would choose? I like debates, but not when the government makes all the decisions, usually contrary to true public opinion.
Much of this farmland is now, in fact, being farmed. Organic farms and self-pick soft fruit farms have become quite popular and should be encouraged. And if the AFCD and universities could find a high-value crop suited to the HK climate, we could resurrect farming not kill it off.
Why, oh why are these options being floated out in such a primitive way? The Government must have already considered various alternatives through feasibility studies and should now come up with concrete plans to solve the problem of land shortage. I recall that CY, prior to the election er nomination stated that there was actually much suitable land for housing needs. Now its the time to take action and not 'test the waters' as that idiot of a person would lead us to believe. Come on, how is it possible that the solutions to land shortage are still at the primary stage. Even discounting Donald's unwillingness to be engaged in this topic CY had 14 months already to deal with this but we have not even started yet.
Who says that only 7% of the land area of Hong Kong is developed? This is rubbish. Just look at a satellite photo and it confirms that about 40% of our land area is occupied by urban buildings.
The only people advocating building in country parks and agricultural areas are those who stand to gain (like Lau Wong Fat and his selfish, ignorant, arrogant NT lobby) or are serving the interests of others who stand to gain - whoops, more property developers. What a surprise.
people should not be be fooled by these lies which are a this smoke screen to hide real destruction of the Country Parks villages which is going on NOW, instigated or supported by the Heung Yee **** and its associates.
This city is sinking into a mire of greed and corruption at the top.
It is like a movie flickering before our eyes with ever the latest show of wisdom casts to solve our land shortage for housing. I don’t know if it is all spontaneous or a concerted effort on the part of the Executive Council and beyond? Perhaps we really need more discipline. It is intellectually primitive to argue to give up farmland for housing. But to have an ex-police chief heading the Conservation Council makes me nervous the most. I belong to the first generation who fear policemen even I am not a crook. May be we all should do something before the movie gets out of hand and becomes a reality.
Government officials will come up with anything else than dealing with the rural strong men. They all know that their ugly little secrets will be made known to all if they do.



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