• Thu
  • Aug 28, 2014
  • Updated: 6:10am
NewsHong Kong

Carrie Lam calls on Legco to approve funding for new-towns project

Acting chief executive warns that Legco failure to approve funding could hit poor, while development minister faces angry villagers

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 June, 2014, 4:58pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 June, 2014, 9:45am


  • Yes: 75%
  • No: 25%
26 Jun 2014
  • Yes
  • No
Total number of votes recorded: 156

Acting Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor urged lawmakers to approve preliminary funding for controversial new-town projects in the northeastern New Territories.

She warned that the delay could jeopardise everything from welfare payments to the redevelopment of a hospital and "dash the hopes" of millions.

But last night villagers affected by the scheme urged the government to withdraw the plan as development minister Paul Chan Mo-po met them in Fanling.

About 200 turned up for a consultation session, but dozens stormed out after Chan refused to respond to a request for him to address protesters at the Legislative Council tomorrow, when lawmakers discuss funding.

Lam said the government would not ask for a vote on the funding to be postponed to clear the backlog of non-controversial plans awaiting approval, saying that would be giving in to "radical and violent" protesters and a minority of lawmakers.

Legco's Finance Committee meets again tomorrow to debate whether to approve HK$340 million in preliminary funding for the government's HK$120 billion plan to build the new towns.

It has become a rallying point for residents in the area and activists, who say thousands will lose their homes for a scheme that will largely benefit developers.

Lawmakers have been debating the funding since last month, but a vote was again put on hold last Friday as thousands protested outside the Legco complex - a week after police used pepper spray on activists who tried to storm the building.

The Finance Committee will hold its final meeting before the summer break on July 11, and unless extra meetings are scheduled, any proposals that fail to get through will lapse. The government will have to table them again when Legco next meets in October.

Speaking hours before Chan met the villagers, Lam said that the delay had created a serious backlog.

"Our estimate is that we now have a total of 35 works projects and 41 non-works projects affecting a large number of policy areas, such as production of land to meet housing needs," Lam said, adding that the works and non-works items costing HK$68.9 billion were involved.

Many works could be delayed for six months even if Legco approved them in October, but eight other projects - including reconstruction of Queen Mary Hospital - could be delayed because their tenders would soon expire, Lam warned.

The "aspirations and hopes" of more than 760,000 public housing tenants who would receive a one-month rent waiver, and 1.1 million social-security recipients who are supposed to receive an extra month's payment would also be "dashed" if the proposals were not approved.

Dozens of people were kept outside the meeting in Fanling last night and only villagers who had registered in advance were allowed inside. A woman carrying a baby tried to force her way in, saying the session was a "fake consultation".

Chan reiterated that shelving the plan was not beneficial to Hong Kong, stressing that major work would not start until 2018 and houses would not be demolished before then.



For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive



This article is now closed to comments

Blackmail!!! Don't be held hostage. And don't use taxpayers money to pay ransom. Resume massive reclamation!!!
Great job Carrie Lam, and get started ASAP. There's enough consultation already. Do not give in to small groups of violent protestors.
Many commentators below criticise the government - left-right-centre, yet these individuals fail to see that government needs land to increase housing supply. And that cramped housing conditions can be alleviated through this. The suggestions by this obtuse commentators revolve around - alternatives like golf courses, limiting mainland purchases etc. some of these may be credible and should be considered along with this New Territories new township.
Those who holler loud enough as they do write here should know- although they never will understand why- the government is determined to go ahead.
HK has been plague by inaction long enough - let this administration get on with the job.
It is about time to let the residents of NE of the New Territories to have their own referendum to decide the development there. Let them elect their own leader. Give them autonomy. This is the business of the residents, nothing to do with the HKers. And they have different culture and different way of living from that of ordinary HKers. They are NTers, not HKers.
The actual number of villagers affected by the new towns development is actually quite small. However, you also have young radical activists who recently have moved to the villages and rented farmland to do organic farming. It is these people that are causing the most fuss because they are not qualified to receive government compensation although they will be offered alternative sites to continue with their farming. They are totally selfish and couldn't-care-less about the enormous benefits that the two new towns development will bring to the local communities and villagers here.
I know because I am an indigenous villager very close to the proposed Fanling North new town development.
The Government must be resolute and not back down on this issue. There is too much at stake for the greater good of the local communities and villagers here than to let a few very vocal and sometimes violent young protesters to dictate government policy!
If you want to know more about the true facts of this issue, you are welcome to read the new webpage I have created on facebook: www.facebook.com/newtownsdevelopment
Interesting, further, are we quite sure these NE villagers are speaking for their own interests, and not for the developers who already owned hectares in their landbanks?
Just do it, Carrie !
Officials don’t need to have political skill to lead in Hong Kong. Just queue up all the work at the Legislation Council. No jumping line is allowed no matter what and every issue and request will be resolved and granted.
Jasper Tsang reschedule the funding vote on the new-towns. Don’t play dumb. Keep cool and carry on with the rest of the work.
The cat is on leave (the kitchen is too hot) and the mouse is at play.
God forbid the government should 'give in' to the concerns of citizens. What a power struggle!! So, for Carrie Lam, it doesn't come down to a question of what's good and bad for Hong Kong, it's all about making sure HK obeys the ones who are holding the big stick of power. "Don't you dare to question us!!"
The silent majority of HK Chinese wants these New Towns to be built as they offer affordable housing for their children. A small but very loud mouthed minority of people who like to believe that the ludicrous house price bubble will inflate forever are against. Of course there are also delusional nut jobs who believe that the government is wrong no matter what...




SCMP.com Account