The Corner for Political & Business Views — Who is Impeding Our Land Supply?
Insufficient land supply has always been an issue troubling Hong Kong. Hence the government had always been proactive in developing land in the past. The last Chief Executive even regarded supplying more land as his top priority. Hoping to increase the medium-to-long term land supply, the current government has proposed the “Lantau Tomorrow Vision” project. Yet, since the announcement of the proposal, it has been receiving a lot of criticisms. Radicals even threatened to paralyze Legco meetings for that. It is my view that these opinions are strayed from reason and have led to “politicization” of livelihood issues. Those who expressed such opinions have not only misrepresented the original intention of the government, but have also stood in the way of its work and denied its effort. Meanwhile, land supply is being seriously impeded.
If we look back at the housing policy of the last Chief Executive CY Leung and his government, we will find that they had taken actions to increase land supply. Until mid January 2017, over 90 pieces of lands had been rezoned or used for residential purpose. Yet, his action was criticized by people outside the government as “irrational” and “taking other’s land by force”. The ironic fact is: these lands, though “taken by force”, have already been used for housing in recent years. During Leung’s term of office, the land sold by the government can be used to build approx. 51,000 flats, which is twice as much as the quantity of the previous 5 fiscal years. Number of public housing has also increased significantly — over 79,000 flats were built within 5 years from 2012 to 2017. These solid figures show us how much the government has done in the past in response to housing problem.
Unfortunately, despite the effectiveness of the government’s solution, implementation is still difficult: the society’s objections and queries are hindering the government from moving forward; the time needed for vetting and approval of government funding is long and the procedure is delayed from time after time; frequent filibustering in Legco further creates unreasonable and unnecessary obstacles. As I recall, the development of Tseung Kwan O New Town had also been strongly criticized back then. The land now housing hundreds of thousands of people is the result of the government’s persistence to face difficulties and obstacles. Therefore, it is my opinion that the opposition camp should look beyond and once again realize that they are at a position to “serve the people”. Showing oppositions regardless of reason is no achievement. To be responsible to the public, they should provide more feasible solutions instead.
Other than land shortage, we still have other thorny problems waiting to be solved, for instance, easing the rent burden of SMEs and assisting young people to start their own businesses. Hence, political parties should spend more time and effort on improving the living of
Those who insist on politicizing livelihood issues will, after all, be renounced by the public.
Chairman of Asia Allied Infrastructure
(This is a Chinese-to-English translation by Corporate Communications Department. The original article has been published in Headline Daily on 24 June 2019.)
By Mr. Pang Yat Ting, Dominic