Let Hong Kong Disneyland give way to housing for the poor
Christopher Pooley’s letter of August 31 (“Why private sports clubs should not make way for housing”) is salutary. I am, in particular, concerned about the government’s treatment of sports land leases.
Hong Kong is a world-renowned city. One wonders what will happen when all such recreational land leases are due for renewal or come to an end, and all lessees say to the government: “Sorry, we can ill-afford the high premium.” Does the government seriously believe that its commercial agencies can manage a sports stadium or sports-cum-recreation club? Let me give two examples.
First, after a government agency terminated its contract with Wembley International to manage the Hong Kong Stadium, the stadium had great difficulty for years keeping its pitch in pristine condition.
Second, the government’s Disneyland project is still running at a huge deficit but The Walt Disney Company, a joint-venture partner, is laughing all the way to the bank with income from its intellectual property rights. I believe that the Disneyland project should be terminated, with the land used for resettling low-income Hong Kong residents.
Incidentally, what good reason does the government have to command such outrageously high land premiums when its coffers are overflowing with money? Do taxpayers not deserve to enjoy sports clubs paying peppercorn rents, such as the Chinese Recreation Club and the Hong Kong Golf Club?
Sports clubs should consider forming a sports consortium to pressure the government into considering other options.
Dr Ronald Wong, The Peak