Time for talking about new towns is over, says Leung Chun-ying after fresh protests
Public has been 'fully consulted' on crucial source of housing, chief executive claims after latest protest forces another delay on funding vote
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has defended plans for two new towns in the northeastern New Territories, insisting people had been "fully consulted" on an "important source" of homes.
Leung spoke the day after the Legislative Council's Finance Committee was again forced to scrap a vote on funding for preliminary work amid mass protests outside Legco.
The HK$120 billion new-town plan has become a rallying point for activists who say thousands of villagers will lose their homes and way of life for a scheme that will largely benefit developers and include many luxury homes. Friday's protest was mainly peaceful, but came a week after scenes of mayhem as police used pepper spray on activists who tried to storm the building.
Speaking after a public function yesterday, Leung said some groups had released incorrect information as they called on people to fight the development.
"I hope the people can compare them with the government's official, correct and comprehensive data and facts," Leung said.
"Those are our important new town projects, which will become an important source of public and private housing supply … We have consulted the public sufficiently in the last three years, conducting countless public hearings and other activities, as well as releasing all useful data."
Leung did not cite specific examples. But the Development Bureau last week countered protesters' claims.
For example, it said just 1.6 hectares had been allocated for luxury homes out of 40 hectares for private flats at the sites in Kwu Tung and Fanling.
Executive Council convenor Lam Woon-kwong urged lawmakers considering the government's request for HK$340 million in preliminary funding for the work to be pragmatic.
"No matter who the chief executive is, and no matter which political party has the most seats in Legco, I dare say that you still have to develop the northeastern New Territories," Lam said.
He warned that strife in the legislature could "obstruct democratisation" as the government prepares its plans for electoral reform.
But Cheuk Kai-kai, a member of the Joint Committee of Fanling North Villages and Residents, said the new town plans were "unjust" as they displaced villagers when other sites were available.
Meanwhile, Legco president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing said the Legco Commission would consider if it could ease the tight security that saw the building's protest zone closed and the number of people allowed into the 40-seat public gallery limited to 10.
Twenty-six people were arrested at the June 13 protest, and three more on Friday.