Split has emerged between personal and public opinions: concern group A serious discrepancy exists between the personal and public opinions of those who hold the key to the future of Victoria harbour, according to a founder of a new harbour concern group. Paul Zimmerman, chief co-ordinator of Designing the Hong Kong Harbour District, said he had spoken to stakeholders who could not voice their concerns because the government was their biggest client. 'It was an alarming discrepancy between their personal opinion and their formal opinion,' he said. 'It is a discrepancy that is almost dangerous.' Mr Zimmerman yesterday addressed business community representatives in an attempt to gain the sector's support for the group's initiative, which aims to forge a consensus on sustainable planning around the harbour. The South China Morning Post is a media sponsor of the programme, which is backed by a growing band of companies and community groups. Mr Zimmerman said the initiative had drawn a solid list of supporters, with members of the business community now offering their input during the public forums and roundtable seminars that are running until June. 'Now is the time for a community-wide rethink.' On Tuesday the Court of First Instance will hand down its decision on a judicial review into the government's insistence to push ahead with the Central reclamation project despite legal principles set down by the Court of Final Appeal in January. The chief executive of Civic Exchange and chairwoman of the Society for the Protection of the Harbour, Christine Loh Kung-wai, said it was 'our patriotic duty' to devote time and resources to the movement to 'get it right' for Hong Kong's waterfront. 'What this project and what this movement is about is to see if we can find a platform that everyone can participate in and get excited about in redesigning the city and bringing the community together,' she said. Ms Loh applauded the interest from the business community and civic and government sectors. She singled out HSBC's support for some form of unified authority for the harbour district. In a position paper released yesterday, HSBC said the harbour's importance had been universally recognised and that principles that govern its management should be clearly established and adhered to. The paper said: 'The harbour is a public amenity that is highly valued by the public and tourists alike, the latter group comprising a significant component of Hong Kong's economy; and that any encroachment on, or corruption, of that amenity requires the justification of an overriding public need.' It also said conservation of the harbour should be a long-term policy commitment for the government and that waterfront land should be designated for public use rather than government offices or legislative chambers. The former chairman of the harbour protection society, Winston Chu Ka-sun, said yesterday the initiative was a 'watershed' after the courts had settled the reclamation issue. 'What to do with [the harbour] is now up to you,' he said. 'We do not have democracy in Hong Kong; therefore that is the root of the problem. The government will not listen but we have to try.'