Sun Hung Kai submitted its proposal for a golf course project directly to the chief executive's office Environmentalists fear property giant Sun Hung Kai is using back-door methods to try to get a controversial golf course development approved in Sai Kung by submitting the proposal directly to Tung Chee-hwa. According to a previously undisclosed government document seen by the Post, the company submitted a proposal to the chief executive's private secretary last November. The plan was for a 'resort development comprising villa guesthouses and a nine-hole golf course'. Sun Hung Kai has long held ambitions to construct a golf course on the site it owns in Sham Chung village. But the unzoned land is governed by a lease that describes the site as agricultural land and an amendment to the lease is likely to be required before a golf resort can be completed. Applications for such amendments are normally made through the Lands Department. Green Power's head of conservation Cheng Luk-ki described the submission of the plan to Mr Tung as 'unusual'. 'Why did a big company have to do it?' he said. 'Why are they not going through proper procedures? Do they think this can help them achieve some objectives they fear they could not achieve and therefore have decided to take such a short cut?' A source at Sun Hung Kai described the submission as a 'conceptual plan' and pledged that the firm 'will not skip the necessary application procedures'. Nothing had been requested or anticipated of Mr Tung in relation to the presentation of the plan, the source said. Sun Hung Kai has already laid turf and constructed what appear to be either water hazards or sand bunkers on the site. None of the works apparently constitutes a breach of the lease rules. Green groups say the wetland area is home to several important species and a golf course and resort would destroy their habitat. Officials have said that if the project goes ahead, the company might not even have to conduct a detailed environmental impact assessment since the project 'had started' before the assessment laws came into effect in 1998. The chief executive's office confirmed last week that it had received the submission, which was then referred to the Commissioner for Tourism, Eva Cheung Yu-wah, who consulted various departments for comment. 'The proposal is conceptual in nature and no formal application to take forward the proposal has been received,' Mr Tung's office said. A spokeswoman for the Tourism Commission also said they had received the plan. An indigenous villager at Sham Chung, who declined to be named, said he had seen executives from Sun Hung Kai visiting the site months ago. 'They just came to check their land to see if someone has illegally occupied it,' he said. The Tourism Commission spokeswoman said they welcomed any proposal that could enhance the tourism potential of Hong Kong, and all proposals would need to fulfil statutory requirements such as addressing the environmental impact. A spokesman for the Housing, Planning and Lands Bureau said that any changes to the site's land lease might involve the company paying an additional land premium. The Planning Department also said that if the proposal involved use of government land, the company might have to swap land elsewhere in return.