The government has acknowledged that the controversial Central reclamation could be scrapped if the public is prepared to accept the legal and environmental consequences. Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands Michael Suen Ming-yeung told legislators yesterday that the government was still listening to all sides in the debate over the future of Victoria Harbour. But he warned that cancelling the project altogether would worsen traffic conditions and air quality in Central. There would also be the threat of legal action from contractors engaged by the government to do the reclamation work. 'Whether or not to rethink the reclamation is a serious question to consider,' Mr Suen said. 'I admit that citizens now have a different view about the reclamation' than when approval was granted to the project several years ago, he said. 'But, as the government, we also have to consider all the positives and negatives of benefit to the public. Do we want to preserve the harbour or do we want a respite from the worsening traffic?' Mr Suen said. He added: 'The only way to overcome this question is for co-operation and discussion between Legco, the public and the government ... Can we come to a compromise? If the public can accept worsening traffic jams, if we can accept having to pay damages to the contractors, then the government must consider it. But at the end, the whole of society must consider these questions.' Mr Suen also suggested that scrapping the project could damage Hong Kong's business reputation. 'We say Hong Kong has the rule of law and we're trying to get people to invest in Hong Kong based on that. So you cannot not think about this issue,' he said. Mr Suen said that, as a result of previous consultations, the Central reclamation had already been reduced to the minimum size required to implement the Central-Wan Chai bypass project to relieve congestion along Connaught Road. 'I know we've all experienced the traffic jam there, especially in the mornings. There are few other options. We have to consider the need for a Central-Wan Chai bypass,' he said.