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Sunday, Sep 25, 2022

Golf flats 'put HK in the rough for talents chase'

Golf flats 'put HK in the rough for talents chase'

Building public housing on one half of a golf course goes against the mission of attracting talents to Hong Kong as many of them love the game, Executive Council member Ronny Tong Ka-wah said.
Writing on Facebook yesterday, Tong said the city should not blame the 2019 social unrest and Covid-19 pandemic for the talent problem in Hong Kong, as the city has fundamental problems in various aspects like culture, sports, education and the living environment.

"Overseas talents, especially high-end talents, are interested in cultural and arts events as well as niche sports. The establishment of the West Kowloon Cultural District is a major improvement, but our facilities for sports favored by people overseas, including sailing, water skiing and golf, are far behind those in other world-class cities," Tong said.

"Singapore only has a population of five million but has 14 private and three public golf courses, while we only have 6 private and three public ones," he said.

Tong, a Hong Kong Golf Club member, said the government's decision to transform half of the Fan Ling golf course into a public housing estate goes against the grain of attracting overseas talents.

The government plans to redevelop 32 hectares of the 172-hectare Fan Ling golf course and build 12,000 flats.

"We have to understand that attracting overseas investments and talents are different. Investors focus most on the opportunity to make money while talents care more about quality of life," he said.

Hong Kong is also said not to have sufficient international schools.

"There are around 70 international schools in both Hong Kong and Singapore, but the population in the SAR is around 40 percent more than in Singapore," Tong said.

"Recently, the SAR even doubled the quota for local student admissions to international schools, and the lack of such school places is contrary to the purpose of attracting overseas talents."

Tong added that the average living space per person here is 13.5 square meters - far less than the 24 square meters in Singapore.

"In the eyes of many senior overseas professionals, Hong Kong is just a concrete jungle. The previous administration changed the ratio of public to private housing to seven to three, which further pushed the price of high-quality private housing to a peak, deterring overseas talents from moving to the SAR," he said.

Although Hong Kong is more democratic than Singapore, many western countries believe one country, two systems is our "original sin," Tong said.

"Western countries and the media constantly praise Singapore while denigrating Hong Kong, which leads many people to believe that the political environment in Singapore is better than that in Hong Kong," he said.

"We have been at a disadvantage in international opinion for a long time, and failing to tell our story well is one of the fundamental reasons why it is difficult to attract overseas talent."

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