Justifications recently offered by government officials for the Cyber-Port project show that they still do not understand why so many people in communications technology consider it a fundamentally flawed concept. First this week we had Chief Secretary Anson Chan proclaiming that it was needed for the development of technology in Hong Kong. Then Executive Council convenor Leung Chun-ying argued that the government's decision to develop information technology (IT) was 'to fill in the blanks of our economic structure'. 'We don't expect to become another Silicon Valley suddenly but the Cyber-Port is extremely important for Hong Kong,' he said. Both may have been stung into making their statements by recent remarks from a mainland technology official who said Cyber-Port was merely a property project and the SAR did not have the culture or tradition to develop an IT industry. The characterisation of Cyber-Port as a property venture certainly rings true and Mr Leung, a career estate agent, should have recognised as much. It will consist primarily of residential and commercial buildings with only a small dedicated technology core. And while we may dislike the jibe about the SAR not having an IT tradition, this also has a ring of truth. Our economy is based on trading and business services, with an industrial history of plastic flowers and garments but little electronics. We are not Taiwan. This misses the point, however. The IT industry we are talking of, predominantly the explosive growth of the Internet, is not about producing IT but about using it. Let others go to the extensive trouble of developing high bandwidth cables and Internet search engines. We will always be too small to have the needed infrastructure or to capture a world market for these things. But we can certainly use them. What we need to do is wire up our offices and homes thoroughly with high-capacity cable and then free up the market for all those Internet services that go over them so that everyone uses this enormous access to information as a standard tool of business. What this does, and we are well on the way towards it already, is make us even better at those financial and trading services in which we specialise. That's how we get a lift from IT. That's how we fill in those blanks of our economic structure to which Mr Leung refers. The Internet is not an industrial object in itself, a thing you produce and sell. It is a highway, and the big winners in highway construction are not the people who pave the roads but those who use them to get their goods and services to their markets faster. And this is where Cyber-Port is a flawed concept. What we will effectively do by spending so much money on it is try to build a great cloverleaf of highway connections in Pokfulam, all of them leading nowhere. Even the people who would use it recognise this, as studies the Government has itself commissioned show. They don't need the library it will offer. They have their own. It's called the Internet. They don't need the shared technology labs. The equipment they need is too specific for a lab to have it all and the lab's equipment will soon be obsolete anyway. They also do not want to let others see what they are doing. The only attraction to them is that the Government must offer very low rents to fill the place, which means that we, the taxpayers, will have to subsidise this duff idea forever. It is, in the end, not just a flawed concept but a counter-productive one. At a time when we need to spread Internet usage as widely as we can across the SAR, we are instead concentrating our efforts into diverting it to a few hectares of land for use by a few specialists. It may fit the bill for one those visible 'achievements' to which government officials like to point, but this only tells you again how frequently government gets its priorities wrong for the sake of a public show of achievement.