Face Off: Is Lantau development beneficial to Hongkongers?

YP ReporterMay HuangYP Reporter

Each week, our two teenagers will debate a hot topic.This week …

YP ReporterMay HuangYP Reporter |

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Snehaa Senthamilselvan Easwari, 15, South Island School

The Lantau development will be highly beneficial to Hongkongers in many ways. It will mostly benefit people who are living on the island. For example, they'll have access to better facilities such as shopping malls and sports and entertainment centres, and their living standards will be raised. The development will also attract Hongkongers from around the city, as well as tourists, who will be able to enjoy the new facilities and have different ways to relax.

Moreover, as everybody knows, better infrastructure is the key to development. After the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge is opened, it will be easier for people to move from one place to another and this means more business opportunities for them. The bridge will also attract more mainlanders, which will help boost Hong Kong's economy. They come to Hong Kong as tourists or to buy property, which then requires them to pay taxes, meaning more revenue for the government.

With tourist attractions like skydiving in Sunny Bay and Disneyland, Hongkongers can go to these places any time when they are free. They can also take a short trip to Po Lin Monastery, where they can enjoy vegetarian food. Transport will also improve with the establishment of bridges, highways and railways. Lantau Island will no longer be an outlying island, but a more advanced transportation hub that enables locals to go there more easily.

I'm especially happy to hear that a new town will be established there soon. It will house up to 700,000 people, who can then stay away from other crowded towns. Their trip to work will also be much more convenient.

May Huang, 18, University of Chicago, US

Lantau Island is famous for its mountainous landscape and distance from the city's busy lifestyle. It has in recent years become a popular tourist destination thanks to Disneyland and Ngong Ping 360. The government's plans for the island, however, are far from over.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying recently announced schemes to further develop Lantau on reclaimed land by building housing for up to 700,000 people, expanding Disneyland and establishing 14 sites for various recreational activities. Such construction plans, in addition to the completion of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge by 2017, will make Hong Kong a more accessible and popular tourist attraction than ever.

On the one hand, the Lantau development seems promising: extra housing would make Hong Kong a more spacious place to live, and increased tourism would benefit our economy. However, the proposed boost for the tourist industry raises questions about whom the measures will benefit the most - local residents, or visitors from the mainland and Macau.

The scope of Hongkongers who can benefit from the plans is limited to those who either live or work in that area or can afford to enjoy the tourist sites the government plans on expanding. Given the distance between Lantau and both Hong Kong Island and the New Territories, it appears these changes are more geared towards tourists than local residents, who may instead oppose the government's proposals.

Thus, the Lantau development is not as ideal as it seems. It would require spending money that could be used to help underprivileged Hongkongers who face rising education and housing costs. Moreover, the development will come at a heavy cost - the natural environment surrounding the island will be badly damaged.

Ultimately, the government needs to concentrate on tackling the existing social and environmental problems in Hong Kong before it takes on more ambitious and potentially destructive projects.