Protesters storm elite Hong Kong golf course, call for land to be used for homes
Minor scuffles ensue as about 20 activists make it onto exclusive Hong Kong Golf Club course, calling for the government to take back the land for housing
About 20 protesters from various groups including the League of Social Democrats and Land Justice League stormed onto Hong Kong’s exclusive Fanling golf course on Saturday, demanding the government take back the land to develop housing or facilities benefiting the wider public.
As members of the elite Hong Kong Golf Club were enjoying a sunny day on the New Territories course, the protesters rushed through its gates or climbed over when they closed. Several security guards tried to stop the protesters, resulting in some altercations.
Another 20 demonstrated outside the 170-hectare (420-acre) course.
Those who got onto the course set up a bed and filled a hole, symbolising how the government had not used land properly, resulting in many Hongkongers living in poor conditions like subdivided flats.
Police were called but no one was arrested and the protesters left after 35 minutes. There were no injuries.
The Fanling golf course has been identified as one of the sites that could be developed to ease the city’s housing crunch, but this has drawn a huge backlash among the city’s wealthy and golf aficionados, who said it would destroy an important training ground for the sport.
An earlier study found that partial development of the site could yield 5,000 flats, or 13,000 flats if the entire course were used.
A public consultation on ways to boost Hong Kong’s land supply – including using the Fanling golf course and brownfield sites – was expected to start on April 15.
One of the participants, League of Social Democrats vice-chairman Jaco Chow Nok-hang, said: “The government often says there is not enough land, and the lease of the Fanling golf course will expire in 2020. It can be quickly developed into housing and we think the government should use it properly.”
He said building flats on the land would be better than having to uproot people from villages or homes for redevelopment.
The government has already conceded it would fall short of its 10-year target of building 280,000 flats by 2027 by 43,000.