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  • Dec 27, 2014
  • Updated: 7:52am
NewsHong Kong

New country parks boss signs up to protect 'every inch' of parkland

Ex-police commissioner affirms opposition to idea of building flats by backing green charter to safeguard 'every inch' of HK's countryside

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 October, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 07 October, 2013, 7:37am

The new head of Hong Kong's country parks signed a green group's charter yesterday promising to protect "every inch" of the land he administers.

Tang King-shing, the former police commissioner and now chairman of the Country and Marine Parks Board, answered the challenge from Save Our Country Parks, an alliance of 20 green groups firmly opposed to the idea of building flats in the parks.

While the charter is not legally binding, activists said it amounted to a public commitment.

"It's a promise made publicly. He is now under moral obligation to defend our country parks," said Friends of the Earth director Edwin Lau Che-feng.

The issue erupted into a public debate after Secretary for Development Paul Chan Mo-po floated the idea last month of building flats in parks to solve the housing shortage.

Tang, whose nomination was deemed controversial because of his government background, was attending the first meeting of the board that he chairs.

"[The board] will strive to protect our country parks in accordance with the law," he said.

The board is the statutory advisory body overseeing all of Hong Kong's 29 parks and has the power to approve construction within parks. Most of the nonofficial members of the board yesterday voiced strong objections to the development idea. Elvis Au Wai-kwong, an assistant director of the Environmental Protection Department, insisted the government had "no intention" to alter the status quo of the country parks.

Meanwhile, a little-known study has come to light showing many Hongkongers were willing to pay HK$100 a year to maintain and preserve country parks.

The University of Hong Kong questioned 613 people between August and October 2009.

The findings were published in the International Journal of Sustainable Development and World Ecology last February.

It received little attention at the time as no one believed Hong Kong's parks would ever be under threat. Researchers said the study showed how highly people valued their parks.

The survey was not intended to be a fundraising proposal, said Professor Jim Chi-yung, of the University of Hong Kong.

"The aim was to estimate the parks' economic value, to raise awareness among policymakers and the general public of the poorly recognised economic benefits of conservation and to justify financial support from the government," he said.

The respondents were randomly selected from visitors to Pok Fu Lam, Shing Mun and Clear Water Bay country parks.

Their household incomes ranged from HK$10,000 to more than HK$40,000 a month.

They were asked if they would be willing to pay an annual fee to enhance the conservation and educational elements of the parks and how much they would like to pay if they could choose.

Only six per cent said they would not pay. Most were willing to give HK$95 to HK$133 a year.



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This article is now closed to comments

if you think allowing development in country parks will some how solve the issue of property prices and affordability in hk, you are delusional my friend
One sign of a pen and the guy gained 100% credibility in my books. You know that once a ex police commissioner puts his pen to paper he will follow it. Not just for his credibility with the people of Hong Kong but more so for the credibility of the police force that used to work under him!
Good news for Hong Kong....
Absolutely fantastic news
and allowing development in country parks will solve your problems (transport and internet access)? you are a muppet
dont let us down mr tang. this is a great message to start with. f-ck the developers and the heung yee c-nts...
Be nice to our policemen / policewomen.
Good for Mr. Tang and good news for Hong Kong. He sets an example of integrity and independence for so many of our senior officials who lack such qualities. By this act he shows he has courage, independence and is not under the influence of the unscrupulous property developers and Heung Yee ****.
He wins my respect and that of the majority of the HK Public.
Next job is to incorporate the village enclaves into Country Parks before they are buried under developers' housing estates masquerading as indigenous villagers' small house rights.
Simple question to the selfish middle class, how are we going to move people from subdivided flats and cage homes to a decent place? How are we going to double our avg living space that Singaporean enjoying? How are we going to have 20+ golf courses and cleaner air that Singaporean are enjoying and yet they have less % of land occupied by county park than HK.
We have 1.2 M people living in poverty defined as making less than 3600 a month as individual. Can u live with 3600 a month? What kind of place will get you for that money to pay for housing, food, Transporation and clothing ? In hk with housing so expensive, I think the poverty line is at least 10,000 a month per individual. But government probably don't want to see 50% living poverty.
What is your solution for decent housing? A four wall and a roof is not a solution as cage home also provides that. Please stop being selfish. Share the success of hk.
A victory of emotion over reason. In a city with the most expensive and inadequate housing on the planet, refusing to even consider that a small proportion of the 40% of land dedicated to country parks might be better utilized is crazy.
I'm not a villager but live in village house. Don't you know in our area we have no facility and poor transportation? Don't you know we have third world internet speed despite I cried for years? We pay tax too! Please be not so selfish.
This is insulting to muppets.
who chose him for the job ?
kudos to the appointer
was it CY?
has he finally picked a winner?
Selfishness is definitely a part of it. We have a vast class of people in HK who bought flats for a relative pittance a few decades ago and now will fight tooth and nail to protect their (entirely unearned and undeserved) gains.

The other issue is that a large part of the populace who would otherwise agitate for cheaper home prices is protected by public housing. Those caught in the middle are left to suffer.
Because our middle class and wealthy people are selfish. They can afford time and money, transportation costs, to enjoy the park as they already living in a comfortable flat, and they don't want to give up the luxury of paying nothing for using the park but at the expenses of poor people who can not afford time and transportation to goto these parks. Not only that, most of this class already own one or more flats, more land will reduce their home prices too. No brainer whey they are against it.


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