Hong Kong’s housing crisis has a quick solution: reclamation for the East Lantau Metropolis
In his opinion column, (“How Hong Kong’s housing crisis can be solved by thinking like Donald Trump”, June 13), Michael Chugani claims that Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s faith in extensive land reclamation as a remedy for Hong Kong’s housing woes is woefully misplaced.
He argues that it will simply take too long to implement, likening the housing crisis to a lit fuse leading to a human bomb composed of more than 500,000 people awaiting access, and suggests that Ms Lam adopt Trump-like protectionist tactics that would prohibit foreign ownership of local housing. His plan is called “Hong Kong first”.
One needn’t be Warren Buffett to appreciate what would happen to Hong Kong’s free market reputation once Chugani’s red flag of protectionism is raised above Kowloon Bay. Moreover, Trump’s predilection for savaging alliances, treaties and international norms and willy-nilly imposing arch-protectionist policies shows his fine mastery of “de-construction”, rather than construction.
But Ms Lam needn’t look any further than Singapore’s shores for an example of how a tiny nation can successfully expand its territory by over 22 per cent to make room for local housing, without slamming the doors on foreign property ownership.
Accordingly, Ms Lam shouldn’t be lured by calls of economic tribalism and easy, quixotic fixes. Instead, she should put Hong Kong’s East Lantau Metropolis project on a fast track. Here’s how.
By employing innovative land reclamation delivery systems that will permit the reclaiming of vast tracts of land at a rate 400 per cent faster than any other previous Hong Kong land-building methods. This will permit the building of 1,400 hectares of new land in just four years, or 2,000 hectares in about five and a half years.
By utilising sophisticated techniques developed and practised for over 100 years, tailor-made, high-quality reclamation sand can be extracted and shipped to Hong Kong at a rate of up to 140 million cubic metres a year. This scale of delivery in such an unprecedented time frame will almost certainly help defuse Hong Kong’s population bomb by building all of the necessary land that Hong Kong requires when it needs it most: now.
All it takes is political will or, in a word, leadership. This should be the consensus Hong Kong forges today: “East Lantau Metropolis now”.
Timothy Cooper, CEO, Global Sands