‘Selfish’ Hongkongers threatening housing targets warns Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying
Leung Chun-ying defends plan to take over soccer facility for housing and insists full target for controversial Wang Chau project has not been dropped
The chief executive blamed “selfishness” on the part of society for threatening the government’s housing targets , amid recent objections to development projects from rural landlords and athletes.
“If everyone objects to [housing] due to selfish reasons, there will be no land in Hong Kong for development,” Leung Chun-ying told students at a sharing session on Saturday.
Leung was responding to a student’s question about why the government’s targets for public housing could not be met.
Touching on the controversy over the government’s plan to terminate a short-term lease for Kitchee soccer club’s Sha Tin facility to make way for housing, Leung said “a short-term lease is a short-term lease”.
“That means the government has a long-term, permanent land use [plan],” he said.
The government only agreed to give time to the club to look for an alternative site to replace the HK$84 million training centre which has been in use for just a year.
Leung, who initially called sports one of the sectors that “does not contribute to the economy” before expressing regret for his comment, said on Saturday he attached great importance to athletic development.
He cited the ongoing plan for a sports park in Kai Tak, which he said would be more costly than the main stadium for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, adding it was “my decision” to build it.
The plan was first floated by Leung’s predecessor, Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, in 2011.
Not long after Leung became chief executive in 2012, the Development Bureau wanted to use the site for housing. Following objections from the Home Affairs Bureau, Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor assured the public that the sports facilities would be built there as planned.
Leung has also faced opposition from villagers and rural landlords in pushing for housing in the New Territories, culminating in the Wang Chau controversy where leaked government documents showed the authorities reduced public housing targets amid opposition from rural landlords.
Leung insisted on Saturday that the target for Wang Chau remained 17,000 flats, while cautioning that unexpected factors such as judicial reviews could slow down the development.
The chief executive also dismissed suggestions that housing demand would decline if Hong Kong allowed in fewer immigrants.
“That’s putting the cart before the horse,” he said, adding that the city’s low birth rate would render immigration necessary.
Localist lawmakers have called for tighter rules for the daily intake of 150 mainland people settling in the city.
With only five months to go before the chief executive election takes place, Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun, who headed Leung’s election office in 2012, refused on Saturday to endorse Leung, saying she would endorse the best candidate.
She added that she welcomed the young faces who had been elected to the legislature.
As all eyes are on whether they will adopt a more hostile stance towards the government, Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen, who is expected to be the next Legco president, said the key to avoiding filibustering would be for the government to deepen communication with lawmakers.