Hong Kong News

Nonpartisan, Noncommercial, unconstrained.
Saturday, Apr 13, 2024

Does Hong Kong need new mega developments off Lantau and in New Territories?

Does Hong Kong need new mega developments off Lantau and in New Territories?

Exco convenor Ip ruffles feathers after she says Lantau land reclamation should take second place to New Territories’ northern metropolis.

Political veteran Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee raised some eyebrows after she aired her views on a controversial plan to create three artificial islands off Lantau in Hong Kong, just a few days before the public consultation on the scheme finishes at the end of the month.

The convenor of the Executive Council, the key decision-making body, suggested the “Lantau Tomorrow Vision” should take a back seat to development of the Northern Metropolis – a proposal rejected by Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu on Tuesday.

Lee said both mega projects should go ahead, especially as the city had to boost its competitiveness and outperform regional rivals.

The Post looks at how Ip’s comments sparked a debate and the details of the two massive developments.

Regina Ip, convenor of Exco and chairwoman of the New People’s Party.

1. What has Ip said that ignited a heated discussion in the political arena?

Ip, a prominent lawmaker and chairwoman of the New People’s Party, on Monday appealed to Lee’s administration to prioritise the Northern Metropolis, a mega development project near the border with mainland China, over the creation of three artificial islands under the Lantau Tomorrow Vision.

Although Ip agreed the government should continue its study on the Lantau project, which aimed to build 210,000 flats to house half a million people and create the city’s third business district, she cast doubt on the economics of the scheme and questioned whether the city had such a voracious appetite for more commercial land.

“With limited resources, the Northern Metropolis development must be prioritised over the Kau Yi Chau reclamation,” Ip said.

She questioned whether the government had the ability to push ahead with both projects at the same time in a tough economic climate as the Lantau reclamation plan had a hefty HK$580 billion (US$74 billion) price tag.

Ip refused to comment further on Tuesday and sources said no discussion on the projects took place at the Exco meeting.

2. What did insiders and commentators think of Ip’s views?

Professor Lau Siu-kai, a consultant to the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, a semi-official think tank, said Ip, who had a relatively frank character, might want act responsibly on behalf her voters by making personal comments that were out of line with government policy.

The political commentator added it was good for Ip to offer constructive criticism, but she should also think about her working relationship as Exco convenor with the chief executive.

“She can express her opinion, but it has to be within a political space acceptable to everyone,” he said. “Otherwise, it might be taken as questioning government decisions and undermining the government’s authority.”

But John Burns, emeritus professor in the department of politics and public administration at the University of Hong Kong, said it was appropriate for Ip to make such comments as she was an elected lawmaker and she had not revealed any confidential information or private Exco discussions.

An insider, however, said Ip’s latest remarks had placed the government in an embarrassing position, although the source conceded Ip was in a difficult position as she also had to represent public opinion because of her political party background as the chairwoman of the New People’s Party.

“The government has been promoting the project, but the Exco convenor said we shouldn’t do that. It is very awkward,” the source said.

3. An Exco convenor who loves to express personal opinions?

It is not the first time Ip has put the cat among the pigeons with her views on government policies since she was made Exco convenor last July.

Ip, a member of the exclusive Hong Kong Golf Club, called last August for a review of a plan to use part of the Fanling course for public housing.

She said in an interview the same month that the city could “consider waiving extra stamp duty on homes for mainland Chinese buyers as a way to shore up the economy and reverse a brain drain” – a comment that drove up the share prices of developers and forced a government clarification.

The political veteran later promised to be more careful when she spoke in public.

Ip also appealed to the authorities earlier this month not to back substantial bus fare increases because they would increase the burden on residents already hit with an economic slowdown.

Members of the public at an exhibition organised to showcase the development of artificial islands off Lantau.

4. What are the two mega projects under discussion?

The Northern Metropolis plan, proposed by former chief executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor in her 2021 policy address and taken over by Lee, was designed to turn large parts of the New Territories near the border with mainland China into a residential and economic powerhouse over 20 years and which would provide homes for about 2.5 million people in more than 900,000 flats and create up to 650,000 jobs.

The metropolis, which would cover about 300 sq km (116 square miles) would take in existing towns in Tin Shui Wai, Yuen Long, Fanling and Sheung Shui, as well as neighbouring rural sites and six new development areas.

A 1,100 hectare (2,720 acre) “technopole” – or tech hub – dubbed Hong Kong’s Silicon Valley, would be built in San Tin. The area would be a centre for IT talent and provide a gross floor area equivalent to 16½ Science Parks.

It would also involve a new cross-border railway link to the Qianhai economic zone in Shenzhen and an extension of a local northern rail link that would stimulate development across Hong Kong’s rural hinterland.

A 46-strong advisory committee, including Ip and chaired by Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po, was formed last month.

Chan in his budget blueprint last month said HK$100 billion would be poured into infrastructure works related to land, housing and transport under the plan.

The three artificial islands under the Lantau project would provide enough land for 210,000 flats for half a million people and a new business hub on an initial 1,000 hectares (2,471 acres) of reclaimed land over two decades.

The artificial islands, with a target of the first homes being available in 10 years, are expected to become the city’s third major business district, alongside Central and Kowloon East. Reclamation work is expected to start at the end of 2025.

The public consultation on the scheme will be completed at the end of the month, but instead of a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ vote on the reclamation, people were asked for comments on the extent of the reclamation, land use and possible financing options.

A bird’s-eye view of part of the New Territories, the site for the planned Northern Metropolis.

5. What controversies surround the two projects?

Some critics have already suggested that the city’s future population may not be big enough to fill up about a million flats the government is expected to build as part of the two mega projects, which raised the spectre of a new problem for the city – a housing glut.

They also warned that the HK$580 billion estimated cost for the Lantau reclamation was unrealistic and that the final figure would exceed HK$800 billion because of inflation and increases in construction costs.

But Lantau Development Advisory Committee member Lau Chun-kong backed Lee’s position and said both projects had to forge ahead and highlighted a need to boost Hong Kong’s long-term land reserves.

Lau explained the Northern Metropolis blueprint covered several new development areas planned for a decade, such as Kwu Tung North and Hung Shui Kiu, and that the major new focus was on the San Tin Technopole.

He added the metropolis plan could be implemented faster than the Lantau reclamation project as it did not involve the creation of much new land and infrastructure.

But he insisted it was also crucial to have a cluster of commercial sites on the reclaimed land of Lantau Island.


Related Articles

Hong Kong News
It's always the people with the dirty hands pointing their fingers
Paper straws found to contain long-lasting and potentially toxic chemicals - study
FTX's Bankman-Fried headed for jail after judge revokes bail
Blackrock gets half a trillion dollar deal to rebuild Ukraine
Steve Jobs' Son Launches Venture Capital Firm With $200 Million For Cancer Treatments
Google reshuffles Assistant unit, lays off some staffers, to 'supercharge' products with A.I.
End of Viagra? FDA approved a gel against erectile dysfunction
UK sanctions Russians judges over dual British national Kara-Murza's trial
US restricts visa-free travel for Hungarian passport holders because of security concerns
America's First New Nuclear Reactor in Nearly Seven Years Begins Operations
Southeast Asia moves closer to economic unity with new regional payments system
Political leader from South Africa, Julius Malema, led violent racist chants at a massive rally on Saturday
Today Hunter Biden’s best friend and business associate, Devon Archer, testified that Joe Biden met in Georgetown with Russian Moscow Mayor's Wife Yelena Baturina who later paid Hunter Biden $3.5 million in so called “consulting fees”
'I am not your servant': IndiGo crew member, passenger get into row over airline meal
Singapore Carries Out First Execution of a Woman in Two Decades Amid Capital Punishment Debate
Spanish Citizenship Granted to Iranian chess player who removed hijab
US Senate Republican Mitch McConnell freezes up, leaves press conference
Speaker McCarthy says the United States House of Representatives is getting ready to impeach Joe Biden.
San Francisco car crash
This camera man is a genius
3D ad in front of Burj Khalifa
Next level gaming
BMW driver…
Google testing journalism AI. We are doing it already 2 years, and without Google biased propoganda and manipulated censorship
Unlike illegal imigrants coming by boats - US Citizens Will Need Visa To Travel To Europe in 2024
Musk announces Twitter name and logo change to X.com
The politician and the journalist lost control and started fighting on live broadcast.
The future of sports
Unveiling the Black Hole: The Mysterious Fate of EU's Aid to Ukraine
Farewell to a Music Titan: Tony Bennett, Renowned Jazz and Pop Vocalist, Passes Away at 96
Alarming Behavior Among Florida's Sharks Raises Concerns Over Possible Cocaine Exposure
Transgender Exclusion in Miss Italy Stirs Controversy Amidst Changing Global Beauty Pageant Landscape
Joe Biden admitted, in his own words, that he delivered what he promised in exchange for the $10 million bribe he received from the Ukraine Oil Company.
TikTok Takes On Spotify And Apple, Launches Own Music Service
Global Trend: Using Anti-Fake News Laws as Censorship Tools - A Deep Dive into Tunisia's Scenario
Arresting Putin During South African Visit Would Equate to War Declaration, Asserts President Ramaphosa
Hacktivist Collective Anonymous Launches 'Project Disclosure' to Unearth Information on UFOs and ETIs
Typo sends millions of US military emails to Russian ally Mali
Server Arrested For Theft After Refusing To Pay A Table's $100 Restaurant Bill When They Dined & Dashed
The Changing Face of Europe: How Mass Migration is Reshaping the Political Landscape
China Urges EU to Clarify Strategic Partnership Amid Trade Tensions
The Last Pour: Anchor Brewing, America's Pioneer Craft Brewer, Closes After 127 Years
Democracy not: EU's Digital Commissioner Considers Shutting Down Social Media Platforms Amid Social Unrest
Sarah Silverman and Renowned Authors Lodge Copyright Infringement Case Against OpenAI and Meta
Why Do Tech Executives Support Kennedy Jr.?
The New York Times Announces Closure of its Sports Section in Favor of The Athletic
BBC Anchor Huw Edwards Hospitalized Amid Child Sex Abuse Allegations, Family Confirms
Florida Attorney General requests Meta CEO's testimony on company's platforms' alleged facilitation of illicit activities
The Distorted Mirror of actual approval ratings: Examining the True Threat to Democracy Beyond the Persona of Putin
40,000 child slaves in Congo are forced to work in cobalt mines so we can drive electric cars.