"It was shocking to me - a small flat to live in does have a negative effect on a person's dignity." That was Our Hong Kong Foundation head Tung Chee-hwa's response when a woman told him she planned to buy a 170 sq ft home for more than HK$3 million for her family of three. Tung, who was Hong Kong's first chief executive for eight years after the 1997 handover, yesterday spoke of his encounter with the woman last month when he was strolling on The Peak. "I think people in Hong Kong are facing a difficult choice," he said. "Should we make sacrifices to have a more decent life?" The foundation has proposed increasing land supply through five means: land reclamation outside the protected Victoria Harbour; turning over land from government and institutional use for homes; building new towns; removing red tape in town planning and development; and "thinking rationally and making wise decisions" about country parks and green belts. Foundation researcher William Tsang Wai-him yesterday stopped short of saying homes should be built in green areas. But he said only 8 per cent of Singapore and 38 per cent of London were green zones. "Do we really need as much as 67 per cent of our land to be green areas?" he asked. "Should we discuss pragmatically, flexibly and rationally, releasing a low [proportion] of those lands for development?" In its written report, the foundation suggested the government could set up a platform "to review the ecological value and purpose of all country parks based on scientific standards". Tsang added that Hong Kong's population could expand to 8.22 million in the next three decades, so the government would need more than 9,000 hectares of land, or three times the size of Sha Tin new town. The foundation's report found that 8,900 hectares of land were developed in the last two decades, with 88 per cent, or 7,800 hectares, built from 1995 to 2004. It said land development had since slowed due to reasons like Town Planning Board objections and legal challenges filed to development proposals. Raymond Chan Yuk-ming, former president of the Institute of Surveyors, told the Post the foundation's five-pronged plan was similar to Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's land policy. "Whether it could be done would depend on the green groups and the Town Planning Board," Chan said.