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Hong Kong housing

Why Hong Kong Golf Club should not be sacrificed at the altar of housing if the city values diversity

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 September, 2018, 5:02pm
UPDATED : Friday, 28 September, 2018, 9:56pm

As a member of Hong Kong Golf Club I want to make two points about the debate on repossessing the Fanling golf course for housing development.

Firstly, the debate is being framed as an emotionally charged class conflict between the wealthy few and the suffering many. That is wrong and misleading.

By international standards, an 18-hole golf course can safely accommodate about 200 players on a dry, well-lit day, whether in Fanling or at the public course at Kau Sai Chau.

Claims that a public course serves everyone while a club course serves only the wealthy few are only partially true. The only time the Fanling course is restricted from the public is weekends and public holidays. Even if that restriction were removed, only a small fraction of the public would use it. That is the size of the golf population.

About 300 hectares of Hong Kong government land underutilised or vacant, study by concern group finds

Unfortunately, Hong Kong Golf Club members are “popularly” portrayed as wealthy people whose membership alone is worth millions. The truth is nearly 90 per cent of members are individuals – many with middle class backgrounds – whose membership is not transferable, and therefore not worth millions. The cost of membership and the queue for membership is comparable to other popular recreation clubs.

I suggest the debate should instead be dispassionately focused on whether Hong Kong still welcomes the sport of golf, or will Hong Kong only welcome sports which require little land? And can repossession of the Fanling golf course not be avoided to solve our housing problem?

Watch: Should Fanling golf course be used for housing?

‘Golf club getting picked on in housing shortage debate’

My second point is about the principle of resettlement. For generations, Hong Kong has had a long civilised tradition of accommodation if existing land users need to be displaced. In the realm of housing, thousands of inhabitants have been resettled over the decades. In terms of sports facilities, old timers will remember the resettlement of the cricket club from what is today Chater Garden. The Fanling golf course was itself a resettlement from Happy Valley. Has anyone offered any resettlement ideas if it is to be displaced again?

Numerically, the golf community will always be vastly outnumbered. It is a minority at the mercy of the “majority”. However, “minorities” are precisely the basic components of diversity. Is diversity truly what Hong Kong wants? Or is it simply lip service?

T. H. Ng, Tai Hang