Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok on Wednesday dismissed calls to redevelop some military sites held by the People’s Liberation Army in Hong Kong into residential housing.
There have been suggestions that some idle or underused military sites should be rezoned for “community use” or the building of residential flats amid the current housing shortage.
At a Legislative Council meeting, lawmaker Frederick Fung Kin-kee urged the government to raise this idea with the central government and seek its approval. He said there was a need to do so as several of the military sites were in prime urban areas.
After the 1997 handover, the People’s Liberation Army took over all former British military sites and the Hong Kong government must get the central government’s approval before it can rezone them for other uses.
The Shek Kong barracks, for example, was under-used, Fung said, as it formerly had an airport that limited the maximum height for developments there and in neighbouring areas.
But Lai disagreed with Fung, saying all 19 PLA sites have been fully used for defence purposes since the 1997 handover and the government had no plans to seek the to rezoning of any of them.
The security chief also said it was difficult to access the level of use of these sites from simply looking at them from the outside.
“Probably people get such an impression, but they do not see the frequent personnel movements in and out of one particular barracks,” he said.
The government early this year mentioned that it was eyeing one military site for housing.
In February, Secretary for Development Paul Chan Mo-po said the government was “working on” an idea for turning a PLA barracks in Kowloon Tong into a luxury residential site.  But no further details have been heard since then.