• Thu
  • Dec 25, 2014
  • Updated: 10:05am
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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45

This article is now closed to comments

impala
129 billion of expenditure... that is over HKD 18,000 for every single person in Hong Kong.

Just to make this land ready for building. Straight into the pockets of the concrete lobby.

Ok, we need land. And yes, we need more houses (that is: flats).

But have we had a public discussion about where we can best find this land? Nope. Why is the Fanling golf course not being developed (instead)? Why are we building a completely unnecessary giant sport stadium at Kai Tak while elsewhere we are demolishing villages to make way for flats? What about the sp****ly populated area around for example the West Rail's Kam Sheung Rd station?

Because we have a bunch of arrogant planners calling the shots without a shred of transparency. Why do we need to redevelop this particular area? Why are we choosing in an area that is both remote in terms of infrastructure and yet already inhabited?

Sadly, the most likely explanation seems to be: because this way we get to pour a maximum amount of new concrete for the necessary infrastructure, while this area is also nicely suitable for further integration with the mainland. The need for housing appears to be an excuse.

I dislike the NIMBY attitude of the protesters, but have some sympathy for them nevertheless, for this is policy making at its worst. Alternatives are not explored, decisions are not explained and the whiff of collusion (if not corruption) with construction companies hangs in the air.
virokick
Finally , something gets done. This is the first step among the many other steps taken by the current administration to achieve it's aim to provide 470,000 units in 10 years.
Protestors must not hold the whole government at ransom.
Those radical paper throwing legislators - we must throw them out.
Rationality will prevail and this is the first step in solving our irrational housing crisis.
I'm so glad the gov is going ahead.
53461a9b-4120-450e-a15d-35040a320969
I agree the government to develop the northeastern, but the ratio between public and private housing should be adjusted, not 5% for public housing.
Hong Kong seems to rely too much on private housing to cater the housing problem that have led to upsurged housing cost in Hong Kong.
If the government can take the lead to develop more public housing, as in Singapore that 85% of singaporeans are living in public housing, this must have positive effect on the upsurging housing cost.
Hollander323
we have just seen lawlessness in a place where our laws are made...what a shame !
virokick
Yes, abolish the policy that gives free land to so called indigenous males- who than sell it back to developers at high prices.
53972ea3-9994-41b2-a3ef-34f10a320969
The Chair in the meeting insisted to dominate the outcome of the meeting with his power to suppress discussion so the public can see clearly the lack of meaningful discussions during the meeting. He should have been replaced right from the beginning. Politically it is darker than anything shown on Hollywood because they were openly displayed in real life. ICAC should get involved.
Dai Muff
You keep thinking this administration cannot get any scummier. And it keeps finding ways to surprise you. Credibility gone down again, while the government panders to big developers. July 1st will be something this year.
woteva6891@hotmail.com
If only 6% of the land is for Public Housing why must the government use the public's funds to develop the area?
If the other 94% of the land is going to developers surely they should be the ones fitting the bill...absolutely ridiculous.
virokick
It all boils down to money finally. 600k compensation for a squatter to move out- on land that doesn't belong to them;moving them is unfortunate, but than the gov could have offered them nothing but still evict them legally.
Paradox314
Carrie Lam - "this is for ordinary Hong Kongers"
When only 6% is for public housing.
Nothin more needs to be said!
I KNOW where Carrie Lam's heart is!

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