Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor will attend a Tuen Mun District Council meeting tomorrow to rally support for the government's unpopular plan to expand a landfill in the area.
The extension row deepened yesterday as the Heung Yee Kuk published a statement calling for the withdrawal of the proposal, while the American Chamber of Commerce appealed to lawmakers to support it.
Lam's decision came after kuk chairman Lau Wong-fat, usually a government supporter, vowed to oppose the plan in the Legislative Council's Finance Committee on Friday. He said he was unhappy that the government had not consulted the district council properly. Lau also said about 100 residents would begin a hunger strike tomorrow in protest.
Lam, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and the undersecretary for the environment, Christine Loh Kung-wai, spoke on the issue yesterday but environment minister Wong Kam-sing was nowhere to be seen. The Environment Bureau said it was unlikely Wong would attend tomorrow's council meeting because a Legco debate he would attend today might drag on into tomorrow. Lam said she recognised the government did not have enough votes to pass the motion and admitted past consultation could have been better. She said she would oversee works to improve the environment in the district.
"I will bear the responsibility if the future works go wrong," she said. "I hope I can convince the district councillors that the motion is only about consultation and surveying fees."
The government is seeking HK$35 million for a feasibility study to expand the landfill by 200 hectares.
Lau said he welcomed Lam's decision to attend the meeting. He said he said he saw Lam yesterday but found their views were very different.
"The government should postpone the plan," he said.
Lawmakers Abraham Razack and Lo Wai-kwok, members with Lau of the Business and Professionals Alliance, said the group's six members would oppose the proposal. The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong said it would continue to support it.
The kuk's statement said the government's decision to shelve a plan for extending the Tseung Kwan O tip "had complicated the issue" and "shaken the stance of government supporters".
AmCham president Richard Vuylsteke said in another statement that it was "highly concerned" about the extensions. "If necessary environmental measures are not taken, it would harm the quality of life in Hong Kong which ultimately affects the business environment of Hong Kong," he said, calling for lawmakers to vote for the plan.
Leung said the government would discuss with residents and district councillors how to improve the district's environment in research to be conducted after the funding was approved.
Loh said the bureau had spoken to various parties in consultation. She recognised that the government had not consulted councillors in the current term.