Private clubs face losing land after review, says minister Tsang Tak-shing

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 November, 2013, 4:47am
UPDATED : Friday, 15 November, 2013, 3:54pm

Leases of private clubs due for renewal will be reviewed to see whether their land could be put to better use, the home affairs minister said yesterday.

Tsang Tak-shing was responding to a critical report from the Audit Commission this week which urged the government to consider taking back some of the land.

Tsang said the government was reviewing private recreational leases. The review would take account of sports development policy and whether some clubs were meeting their required objectives of supporting elite athletes and promoting sports to the public.

"We will also consider if their land could be put to other uses or developed," he said.

The lease on the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club's premises in Sai Kung is up for renewal next year, while that of the Hong Kong Girl Guides Association-Jockey Club Beas River Lodge comes up in 2015.

The Home Affairs Bureau said the Lands Department had received 12 complaints and handled 32 cases of suspected breaches of lease conditions from July 2011 to June this year, involving a total of 35 private recreational leases.

In its report on Wednesday, the Audit Commission questioned the transparency of the leases and the clubs' compliance with requirements to meet the public's recreational needs on government land they obtained for a nominal or zero land premium and at low rents.

Tsang spoke after attending the Asia Cultural Co-operation Forum with culture officials from 10 Southeast Asian countries.

Separately, he ruled out an investigation into the row over alleged self-censorship by the Hong Kong Ballet.

"We would not intervene with local creativity; we tend to promote cultural development," he said.

The ballet company was accused of censorship after it temporarily cut a sequence featuring dancers dressed as Red Guards waving Mao Zedong's "little red book" from its co-production of The Dream of the Red Chamber.

Also attending yesterday's forum was Beijing's Minister of Culture Cai Wu who said he had not as yet had a chance to watch the production.

Cai refused to comment on whether the Cultural Revolution was too politically sensitive to feature in a creative performance. But he said: "Artists should be given a free hand to do their work."

The story was updated at 3.50pm on November 15 to correct the name of the Hong Kong Girl Guides Association-Jockey Club Beas River Lodge in the 5th paragraph.