The government's proposal to open up the border areas in the New Territories should be seen as just a beginning, the Heung Yee Kuk and the chairman of a chamber of commerce in the area said yesterday. An executive councillor of the kuk, Alfred Lam Kwok-cheung, said the rural advisory body had been lobbying the government on the issue for several years. 'The area in question is quite big and so if there isn't even a timetable for opening it up, then it is a waste of land resources,' he said. 'Across the border, Shenzhen is developing quickly but in the northern New Territories there are still many areas that are closed off or are not in such a good state,' he added. Mr Lam hoped the move would help bring different types of development to surrounding areas, including some small-scale industry. But the government proposal should be viewed as just 'turning on a green light', with many details still needing discussion, he said. 'We anticipate that we will be having a lot of discussions with the government about how to proceed next,' he said. Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce of Shataukok, John Tsang Yuk-on, said he was very disappointed with the limited scope of the proposal. 'Of course, we're happy that some of the villages have been opened up, but thousands of people are still stuck,' he said. Mr Tsang, who has long campaigned for opening up the area, said he had hoped the government would allow Shataukok town centre and its market to be opened. Many stores were close to shutting down because there was little business, he said. For example, only five of the 22 stores in Sun Lau Street in Shataukok were operating. 'It's just like the market in Sai Kung, with eateries and supermarkets. If the market is closed to the outside, how could it survive,' Mr Tsang asked. A government spokesman said the border town's centre would not be opened for fear of illegal immigration and smuggling. 'But the more that it is closed the more crime it will foster because there is then very little transparency,' Mr Tsang said. He also cast doubt on potential economic benefits for Shataukok, especially the proposed opening of its pier to tour groups during weekends and holidays. 'What good would it be if the tour groups bussed people straight to the pier and got them on a boat,' he asked.