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  • Dec 22, 2014
  • Updated: 11:14am
NewsHong Kong
POLITICS

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
 

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  • Yes: 75%
  • No: 25%
26 Jun 2014
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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.

 

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26

This article is now closed to comments

jgmoreno
What about claiming back the Fanling golf course and use it for this project?
As far as I know, although the concession ends only in 2020, the Government has the right to claim back the land anytime with one year advance notice.
Am I wrong?
Paradox314
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!!"
mvdvalk
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...
Paradox314
This so-called 'silent majority' to which you refer is merely a ghost-puppet, that govt. types like you pull out at your own convenience to support your agenda. If it's 'silent' - then you cannot, by definition, know that it exists; nor could you know what it, thinks/feels or wants.
.
People do NOT want village community life destroyed so that rich developers can get richer still - building little concrete boxes in which their children will be entombed (at very great expense). The kind of housing well-behaved but mindless and unconscious bureaucrats like yourself want to build do not provide healthy living conditions for human beings. I know - because I have lived in one of these 50 floor sardine cans. Nobody knows even the neighbors that live on the same floor. When someone finally gets overwrought with the lonely hopelessness of life and jumps out of the window to their death, nobody may even know who they were.
.
What MY children need, is for us to think carefully about how to design communities that provide a decent quality of life. People NEED to live in communities where relationships with neighbors are maintained, where a relationship with nature is a genuine part of everyday life. (Not a sterile fountain reeking from chlorine tablets that is walked past to and from school twice a day). What they need is some style of living that is a lot closer to the kind of village life that your so called 'silent majority' is so keen to wipe off the face of our living Earth.
zvichadashote
Whatever is done by the HK Government, please just make sure that the real estate tycoons make enough money by building lots of apartments to sell to non-resident Mainlanders who will just let them sit empty. PLEASE!
scmpgt
Doesn't Carrie Lam's husband and kids not spend anytime in HK? Even her own husband knows she is mismanaging the territory.
kongshan2047
"People Power lawmaker Raymond Chan Chi-chuen had questioned why the government did not ask the finance committee to debate less controversial proposals before the new-town projects".
So according to him we should only deal with things that are easy and just shelf complicated proposals? Then why do we need him to represent us?
virokick
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.
pliu
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
kongshan2047
Some 40% of the development will be subsidized public housing or HOS flats, which means they are only eligible for HK residents. Besides, we are a free market and if any outsider or Mainlander intends to buy properties in HK, then what is the problem with it? I still recall that back in the 1990s, a lot of property developments in nearby Guangdong province were designed to cater for mostly HK residents. Indeed a lot of people in HK own properties in China or elsewhere. So it is acceptable for us to go and buy properties over there but not the other way round?

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