Hong Kong News

Nonpartisan, Noncommercial, unconstrained.
Saturday, Jun 15, 2024

Focus on Northern Metropolis scheme, not artificial islands: Hong Kong’s Regina Ip

Focus on Northern Metropolis scheme, not artificial islands: Hong Kong’s Regina Ip

Remarks by top adviser to Hong Kong government has raised eyebrows in political circles and divided opinion.

Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, the Hong Kong government’s top adviser, has urged the administration to prioritise a mega development project near the border with mainland China over a controversial plan to reclaim three artificial islands off Lantau, raising eyebrows in political circles and dividing opinion.

While political scientists said the administration should take the chance to address the public’s concerns about the Lantau Tomorrow Vision plan given Ip’s clout, an insider said her remarks in her capacity as convenor of the key decision-making Executive Council would inevitably embarrass the government.

Ip, a veteran lawmaker and chairwoman of the New People’s Party, on Monday said the HK$580 billion (US$78.3 billion) price tag for building 1,000 hectares of artificial islands in waters off Lantau near Kau Yi Chau was “very preliminary”.

While she said the government should continue its study on the 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 over the economics of it.

She questioned whether the city really had such a great demand for commercial land, pointing to a great number of sites to be provided in the future at Kai Tak and areas near the city’s airport.

“With limited resources, the Northern Metropolis development must be prioritised over the Kau Yi Chau reclamation,” Ip said, questioning whether the government had the ability to push ahead with both projects simultaneously under the current financial conditions.

Under the Northern Metropolis scheme, proposed by former chief executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, an international IT hub and 900,000 flats for 2.5 million people will be built near the mainland border in the northern New Territories.

Ip said the metropolis, for which costs had yet to be estimated, was strategically significant as it could foster closer integration of Hong Kong, Macau and mainland cities on the flow of talent, goods and data.

“It can help break down the conflicts inherent in ‘one country, two systems’,” she said, referring to the principle under which the city is governed.

In response, the Development Bureau said it was grateful for Ip’s suggestions but stressed authorities would push ahead with both mega development projects at the same time to boost the city’s land supply.

“We will study and consider her opinion alongside the views collected in public engagement activities to strengthen our preliminary proposal and make the best decision for the society,” a spokeswoman said.

Green groups and professionals recently urged the government to properly outline the real cost and environmental impact of the controversial Lantau project. But development minister Bernadette Linn Hon-ho stood firm, saying the issue was about how to execute the project rather than whether to do it.

It is not the first time Ip has raised eyebrows with her remarks over government policies since being appointed as Exco convenor last July.

She called for a review of a plan to turn part of an exclusive golf course into public housing last August. That month she also suggested 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 developers’ share prices and prompted a government clarification.

The veteran politician later pledged to be more careful when speaking in public.

Earlier this month, Ip also urged the authorities not to approve substantial bus fare increases as it added to the financial burden of residents.

An insider said Ip’s latest remarks had placed the government in an embarrassing spot, despite noting that she was in a difficult position as she also had to represent public opinion given her political party background.

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

An illustration of the completed three artificial islands for the Lantau Tomorrow Vision


Exco member Ronny Tong Ka-wah stressed the council had a duty to deliver a variety of opinions to the government and he respected different members’ views.

“If Exco only supports all government policies, I think its function may not be performed,” Tong said.

Tong said he did not see a conflict between the two mega initiatives as the government might consider issuing bonds and cooperating with developers on building artificial islands to reduce a reliance on public money.

John Burns, emeritus professor of 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 a popularly elected lawmaker, and she had not revealed any confidential information or internal Exco discussions.

“Government must address Ip’s doubts about the financial viability of undertaking two mega projects at the same time. Ip is an insider and her voice matters. The government should realise that she speaks for many citizens,” Burns said.

He added that the government should respond to other criticisms of the mega reclamation, including environmental sustainability issues, and make adjustments to policies and government priorities to show it was listening to the public.

Political commentator Professor Sonny Lo Shiu-hing also said Ip could meet Beijing’s expectations of public office holders by offering the government constructive advice.

“Under the new political circumstances, the central government expects political elites to assist officials in governing the city,” he said, referring to Beijing’s “patriots-only” electoral overhaul. “Ip is reasonable and doing her job.”

Lantau Development Advisory Committee member Lau Chun-kong said the public should wait for the details of the reclamation project, adding that the city needed land for future development.

Newsletter

Related Articles

Hong Kong News
0:00
0:00
Close
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.
×