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

MTR Corp not pulling its weight on housing needs, says Paul Chan

Government should not be only one trying to boost housing supply, says development chief, pushing plan for public flats on light-rail site

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 February, 2014, 11:37pm
UPDATED : Friday, 28 February, 2014, 5:04pm

The development chief yesterday accused the MTR of not doing enough to help solve the city's housing shortage.

"The MTR Corp has not launched a single project in the past three years. The government shouldn't be the only one to put more effort into boosting supply," Secretary for Development Paul Chan Mo-po said, after revealing the government would negotiate a subsidised-housing project with the corporation.

"The MTR Corp should try harder too," Chan added.

Such criticism is rare, given the government is the company's major shareholder. But government sources said the fact the MTR Corp was a listed company made it difficult for the government to exert influence over the rail operator.

Moving a step closer to what would be a major policy change, Chan said the government would negotiate with the MTR Corp about building subsidised housing on a site in Tin Shui Wai.

The company has launched only three tenders in the past year - two for a site proposed for subsidised housing at Tin Wing Light Rail station at Tin Shui Wai and one for Tai Wai station. It rejected all the bids, saying they failed to satisfy tender conditions.

The rail giant now builds only private flats and is not required to provide any public housing.

"We are considering the [subsidised housing] option seriously and will negotiate with the MTR," Chan said. "Building subsidised housing is not a bad option. But we should not disclose too many details at this stage."

Chan said the 34 sites in the land sales programme for 2014-15, and other plots, would allow for the construction of 29,930 flats. But 22 sites will require rezoning as they are in green belts or meant for other uses.

Chan expressed confidence the government would meet its housing target by providing land for 18,800 private flats a year.

Under its merger with the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation in 2007, the MTR Corp paid HK$4.9 billion for the right to develop property at eight sites - including the Tin Wing Light Rail station.

A real estate specialist at City University said the government's talks with the MTR would be tough. Dr Lawrence Poon Wing-cheung noted a government valuation in 2006 estimated flats built on the site would cost HK$3,450 per sq ft, compared with the HK$2,000 to HK$2,300 surveyors estimated yesterday.

"Whether the government should pay the company according to current market prices or the previous estimate would be a political decision," Poon said.

Chan also said the former Lee Wai Lee campus next to Baptist University in Kowloon Tong would be removed from the housing list so it could be used for special-needs education, an area the chief executive said in his January policy address would require more resources.


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Indeed. In fact, the government isn't just a major shareholder in the MTR Corp, it is the majority shareholder. They own over 70% of the shares, even though the government allows it to be ran at arm's length, as a semi-independent business. But it is very much a state-owned enterprise.

So if the government wanted the MTR Corp to jump, all they would need to do is tell it to jump. And it will jump. Paul Chan embodies the curious mix of incompetence, ignorance and big-business collusion that our government specialises in.
More government nonsense with Chinese characteristics. Paul Chan has no business opining in public what MTR Corp. should be doing. The government is a shareholder, the Transportation Secretary sits on the board, so there is no functional need for such theatrics. It undermines confidence in Hong Kong's capitalist economy, makes no material difference to the housing shortage, and does nothing to change the government's addiction to revenues from real estate.
I thought we had property developers who have made billions and billions from building pokey apartments - why single out the MTR? Chan is just an idiot who is symbolic of this shambolic Administration!
The current system with the MTR is very good for Hong Kong as it provides cheap transportation without using government funds. This should not be changed.
I no terms should the government buy back the land allotted to the MTR to build government housing. Doing so hurts the poor of HK as it will only lead to higher future transportation costs.
Paul Chan is solely doing this as a publicity stunt and trying to move some of his past stupidity to someone else. MTR is an amazing company and has built up wonderful facilities above its stations. These beautiful designs and builds make it great for tourists shoppers and all the people of HK.
I don't think we need to exit MTR stations surrounded by public housing with no malls, beautiful facilities etc..
When did you last see a government estate with interconnected malls with large amounts of glass to see outside, scenic water features and abundant bridges. MTR setups are extremely well planned that make both transportation easy and a pleasant experience.
People of HK don't let Paul Chan ruin everything!! Hopefully the MTR stands up for HK.
With the government being a major shareholder of MTR corp., it is almost as if they are criticizing themselves..........Paul Chan has got to be the dumbest government official ever, with the continuous evident stupidity he is displaying since he has taken the post.
Is anybody out there just as sick of hearing from this idiot?
Did anybody else have trouble reconciling these two statements in the article above:
"...given the government is the company's major shareholder."
and "But government sources said the fact the MTR Corp was a listed company made it difficult for the government to exert influence over the rail operator." That is, a "major shareholder" has difficulty in exerting influence over a listed company? Corporate governance here in HK baffles me...
Maybe Mr. Chan should get his wife or brother in law to buy the rights, develop them and make good money out of it....just like he did with asdkfhasadfhjf (stabbed and motorbike rides off)
It is even worse actually. They are the majority shareholder with over 70% of the shares.
its even worse than that ..they promised external shareholders' a minimum rate of return in perpetuity for new projects in the listing prospectus
With MTR and Government the land price will be kept high and so avoid a housing bubble in HK.
Only the Government dictate the market price and use of plots and so the housing prices.



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