Heavenly king in hell of a reclamation row

Andy Lau Tak-wah may have spent most of his life avoiding controversy, but he’s found it now with his support for the proposed East Lantau Metropolis

PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 October, 2018, 6:08pm
UPDATED : Friday, 05 October, 2018, 10:32pm

Hong Kong’s perennial superstar Andy Lau Tak-wah has made a career of out of avoiding controversies and public relations landmines. But even this “king of heavenly kings” has found himself in hot water this week, having come out in support of the proposed East Lantau Metropolis and its related nearshore reclamation.

We don’t know if Lau really supports or even knows anything about the plan, which is clearly favoured by the government of Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and the construction and property sectors. Maybe he was just doing someone a favour by lending his voice, literally, to Our Hong Kong Foundation, the think tank which has produced a three minutes-plus clip promoting the controversial development plan.

Founded by ex-chief executive Tung Chee-hwa, the foundation’s board of directors is virtually a who’s who of the city’s tycoons and their offspring. Given its pro-business bias and old boys’ network, it seems counterproductive for it to be promoting large-scale reclamation.

It certainly didn’t work out for Lau. All the usual anti-government news sites – Stand News, Passion Times, Post852 – have come out mocking the Canto-pop star. Some of his most iconic movie scenes have been turned into memes caricaturing his new-found support for reclamation. One meme features his famous role as a bomb disposal officer trying to disarm a suicide vest attached to a colleague while demanding to know where he can find more land; it’s hilarious.

Andy Lau voices support for land reclamation in new video

The attacks have been so fierce that the government’s Executive Council member Ronny Tong Ka-wah, SC, has come out to defend Lau. The big boys must be suffering pangs of conscience for getting Lau into trouble.

So, what’s all the fuss? His voice-over asks what if all of our squabbling and social conflicts really have an underlying cause? Let’s just say it’s a rhetorical question. The train of thought running throughout Lau’s passionate and sometimes gut-wrenching narrative – probably among his best script reading in his long career – is that the lack of land is the mother of all problems and Lantau reclamation is the panacea.

But whose plan are we talking about? The foundation wants as much as 2,200 hectares of reclaimed land catering to 1 million people. The government initially talked about 700 hectares for about 700,000 people. But there are unconfirmed reports that Lam will disclose a new target doubling the reclamation size in her upcoming policy address.

So Lam has read the foundation’s report?