A major property developer has joined a growing debate over the government's preferential land supply policy for Hong Kong's two railway firms, saying it is outdated. Hang Lung Properties chairman Ronnie Chan Chi-chung yesterday said the government had given the MTR Corp (MTRC) and Kowloon-Canton Railway Corp (KCRC) land-development rights as an indirect grant to provide them financial support when the property market was booming. 'However the structural change in the market since 1997 means the policy is no longer suitable,' he said. Mr Chan's comments come as an increasing number of developers are urging the government to squeeze land supply for the two railway firms and postpone sales of their projects in a bid to boost the slumping property sector. Earlier this month, Liberal Party chairman James Tien Pei-chun urged the government to prevent the railway companies from competing in the property development market, saying that if they were allowed to continue they could provide another 50,000 flats in the next few years. The MTRC and KCRC have agreed that no railway property developments will be put up for tender next year. However KCRC chief executive Michael Tien Puk-sun yesterday reminded the government of the importance of property development to the railway firm and the public. He said the government should give rail companies priority to develop property projects along new routes. Any delay would lead to a drop in passenger numbers and pressure to increase fares, he said. In a bid to restore public confidence, the government next week is to publish a report on demand and supply in the property market. The report will show a trend towards declining supply in the next two to three years along with pent-up demand for private housing. Earlier this month, former MTRC chairman and chief executive Jack So Chak-kwong also reminded the government, which owns 76 per cent of MTRC, of the importance of property development to the corporation, pointing to promises in the listing prospectus in 2000. He said property development, as listed in the prospectus, was relevant to MTRC's core rail business.