• Fri
  • Sep 19, 2014
  • Updated: 4:01pm
NewsHong Kong
DEVELOPMENT

Chaos as initial funding for new towns in New Territories approved by Legco panel

Pan-democrats, protesters cry foul but HK$340 million funding passes

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 June, 2014, 2:36pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 June, 2014, 4:11am

Lawmakers last night finally approved the government's request for preliminary funding for work on controversial new towns amid chaotic scenes and vows of legal action from pan-democrats, who said the vote was illegitimate.

Members of the Legislative Council's Finance Committee voted 29-2 to approve the funding request.

But most pan-democrats did not vote, instead berating chairman Ng Leung-sing, whom they accused of breaching the rules of procedure.

Watch: Hundreds of protesters gather outside Legco for new-towns project vote

Most of the protesters who gathered outside the Legco complex in Admiralty dispersed after the vote but vowed to continue to fight the plan. Scuffles broke out after a protester refused to leave when police wanted to reopen Tim Mei Avenue to traffic. Police said 1,500 people turned out. Organisers put the figure at 5,000.

The six-hour meeting saw Ng twice accused of breaching committee rules. First, he refused to consider a no-confidence motion in himself, submitted by Labour Party chairman Lee Cheuk-yan, proposing instead to have a special meeting on the motion next month. Then, as the meeting neared its conclusion, he told lawmakers they would have only one minute each to ask questions before the HK$340 million funding request went to a vote.

Pan-democrats complained that Ng had contravened Article 46 of the rules of procedure, which dictates that "the chairman shall ask members if they have any further questions before putting an item to the vote". They said his refusal to discuss Lee's motion also breached the rules of procedure.

Ng cited advice from Legco's legal adviser and said Article 46 only meant lawmakers would get to ask questions.

Pan-democrats got up to berate Ng, but he refused to change his mind. While they were still complaining, the vote went ahead, with only two pan-democrats - the Civic Party's Ronny Tong Ka-wah and Dennis Kwok, who remained seated - able to vote against the motion.

Ng and Development Bureau officials were escorted out by security guards.

After the meeting, Lee said: "Ng repeatedly breached the committee's procedural rules … and the vote result is illegitimate. The only choice we have is to seek a judicial review."

The issue is highly charged. The government says the HK$120 billion new towns at Kwu Tung and Fanling North are vital to its homebuilding plans. But protesters say the plan will benefit big developers and involve mostly luxury flats, while villagers will see their homes and lifestyles lost for little compensation.

Protesters chanted angry slogans when they realised the vote had passed, and some even broke down in tears.

But protest leaders rejected the suggestion of radicals that they should try to storm Legco.

"Your enemies are not standing here on the stage," Cho Kai-kai, a member of one of the eight groups behind the protest, told demonstrators angry at that decision. "Your enemies are inside [government headquarters], land developers and the puppet regime headed by [Chief Executive] Leung Chun-ying."

Villager Lee Siu-wah said on stage that the next battlefield would be the Town Planning Board, and said 200,000 people would show up when the board came to discuss the plan. Cho said villagers would "stop the bulldozers with their bodies".

Some pan-democrats apologised for failing to prevent the vote. Dr Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung said they would fight on, while Albert Chan Wai-yip vowed to paralyse Central with a protest on July 2.

For the second week in a row, protesters were banned from the designated protest area outside Legco amid tight security.

A 17-year-old boy was arrested after he was found to have brought an awl as well as spray paint, a lighter and rubber hose with him.

Another protester, Billy Chiu Hin-chung, was arrested yesterday in connection with the June 13 attempt to storm Legco.

Watch: Undercover police officer discovered by protesters

A row broke out shortly before the voting when a protester demanded a man whom he claimed was a plain-clothes police officer show his credentials. The news caused an uproar in the crowd - there had been claims that undercover police infiltrated earlier protests and encouraged disorderly behaviour.

The protester said he saw the "officer" pushing rally goers from behind in an attempt to create conflict earlier in the afternoon.

The "officer" fled inside the adjacent Citic Tower, ahead of about 50 pursuing policemen, protesters, cameramen and reporters. He eventually left accompanied by police in uniform. He did not confirm whether he was a police officer.

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This article is now closed to comments

John Adams
I am very disturbed by reports that only 5% of the appropriated land will be for public housing .
Is that really true ?
Can the SCMP do some real in-depth research on that matter ?
.
But I'm even more disturbed that we don't start with Fanling golf course .
If the golf course were to be the first site to be appropriated for public housing that would send a straight message to the "rich- famous- collusioned -fat-cats " and to the indigenous people of the NT
lucifer
What matters more is that most people in Hong Kong probably do not support this move, but we can never know without true representation though democratic means.
The legislature is not in touch with the people's concerns/needs and is obviously acting blindly in support of the government's wishes. This is how the process works in the Mainland. Fake legislatures always support the Communist Party, no matter what folly or farce is being promoted. This is clearly an example of the Hong ing government following Beijing's wishes....these new towns will eventually help to connect Hong Kong to greater Shenzhen, once they kick down the wall in the near future.
sipsip1238
Excellent Mr. Ng, you have established a new low for the Hong Kong government.
The way you're doing things, we'll soon be joining the ranks of Thailand.
wonghln
misleading headline. very disappointed at scmp editorial.
syn
How surprising that press conferences pushed the need for public housing and the fact that needy residents were being held hostage, only to be revealed that 1/20 of the land is being used for estates. Or should i say estate. What a shady way to go about things. The de facto annexation/blurring of borders addressed earlier in the thread is also often overlooked. I doubt anyone would have supported this if the proportions for zoning had been revealed during the "consultations".
draconianfederation
"Lawmakers" did NOT approve anything!
The proposal was passed that's all, and through cheating!
The chair of the panel forced the voting process even though everyone was not back at their seats to make their vote!
Plus the whole thing IS illegal because the chair of the panel had stakes in the NENT development, making it a conflict of interests! In ANY democratic society that would not have been allowed, the fact that he continued to chair the panel is HIGHLY illegal!
The whole NENT project is to make a special region within a special region, giving mainland chinese a foothold to invade the rest of Hong Kong. Yesterday's Tibet, today's Hong Kong!
The NENT will give free access to mainlanders without visa applicatons, and with no borders separating that area with the rest of Hong Kong, there is nothing that can stop mainlanders flooding into the rest of Hong Kong. 7 million people in Hong Kong is already at bursting point, just 1% of mainlanders flooding into Hong Kong, for whatever reason, is twice that number, Hong Kong WILL sink!
Paradox314
Now I see the video is back.
Paradox314
It seems that the SCMP has removed the video showing the discovery of the undercover police officer who was pushing and shoving protesters to try to stir up some violence. I wonder why the SCMP has done this???
Paradox314
Could it have something to do with the fact that the owners of the SCMP, the Kuok family, are pro Beijing, and that the chief editor, Wang Xiangwei, is a member of the Chinese government? (He is a member of the CPPCC Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference)
johnyuan
Now the requested funding is approved. I assume the voters actually know what that money in such a large sum that amounts to 1/3 of billion HK dollar is to spend on. Or these legislators are just as in the dark as the public who just fell in the trap set by the government – pay first so that the rice is cooked and the hair is wet.
.
I find most distressing that a new town can’t start with the right foot. It is a golden opportunity to right what has been wrong with improper and inadequate town / urban planning practice in Hong Kong. The next meeting at the Town Planning Board most likely is going ahead with unprofessional practices that seeing business as usual is most normal.
.
When the new towns near the boarder could become a shining example of good planning, it would serve mainland as well for its quick urban expansion immediately and nothing can be any better for the future integration of the region.

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