Zhang Dejiang’s short visit (or inspection) has told us that Lantau is not just a big deal in Hong Kong. It’s a pretty big deal in Beijing, and an even bigger deal for CY Leung’s reelection (or ‘reelection’) strategy.
The Development Bureau was the first place on Zhang’s official agenda, which soon became well-known to Hong Kong thanks to this photograph of the VIP inspecting this hefty 3D visualisation of the Lantau plans:
Lantau rural committee leaders have complained the government’s development plans don’t go far enough, with three calling for development in country parks.
Speaking at last week’s Islands District Council meeting, South Lantao Rural Committee representative Cheung Fu said that with several hundred thousand people on the public housing waiting list, new homes should be built on “low ecological value country park land.”
Fan Chi-ping, the Tung Chung Rural Committee representative, said the government should care more about the “feelings of rural people,” Local Press reported. Despite Hong Kong’s rank as the world’s most unaffordable housing market, Fan said there were too many “conservation sites,” which was forcing down the market value of land. Continue reading
A real estate expert has called into question the economic and environmental feasibility off the government’s East Lantau Metropolis plan.
The government has pitched the scheme for a commercial and residential hub of up to 700,000 people on an artificial island off Lantau’s east coast as a means of providing housing and economic activity.
But Leo Cheung, head of business valuation at property services company Icon City, said in a letter to Hong Kong Economic Journal it was difficult to see any “geographic operational synergies” for the hub in any sector other from logistics.
The government’s economic projections “belong to the unknown,” he says. Continue reading
Protestors in Mui Wo today came face to face with the government’s point man on Lantau development for the first time since the release of the controversial LanDAC report.
About 50 people marched through the streets of Mui Wo to confront Development Secretary Paul Chan as he opened the new children’s playground next to the wet market.
The demonstrators called on the government to withdraw the LanDAC report and to keep the ban on outside vehicles from entering South Lantau. Continue reading
Remote as Lantau may seem, you get a sharp view of the workings of Hong Kong. The dysfunction, the cronyism, the inability to grasp people’s needs – all reveal themselves in microcosm.
So when the Transport Department pre-empts the outcome of its consultation on opening South Lantau roads, that’s an issue for Lantauistas, but it also tells a tale that is reflected across the entire city.
Following a public outcry after the department’s plan to allow an extra 80 vehicles per day was made public, it consented last month to take submissions from community groups. Continue reading
Here’s a story about the Transport Department.
When several government agencies and NGOs met in the wake of the deaths of eight cattle on Lantau 18 months ago, the TD sent an official who claimed to be so new that he didn’t have any business cards. Not only could he refrain from taking a position or making any contribution to the discussion, he smartly avoided any possible follow-up.
Here’s another story. The Transport Dept has not issued a single taxi licence in the history of the SAR.
Here’s another. When I interviewed the TD via email early last year about Lantau taxis, their spokesperson said: “We are collecting data to assess the level of taxi services in Lantau Island and will be open-minded on whether to issue additional taxi licences.”
Now, according to the Sun newspaper, the department has finally acknowledged that the blue taxi waiting time is “longer” in peak periods.
Indeed, under prodding from LanDAC, theTD has said it surveyed the Lantau taxi service last year and is now considering whether or not to issue new licences on the basis of “established policy.”
Presumably that is the established policy not to issue any licences at all.
But the department has encouraging words to the LanDAC members who suggested issuing ten ‘trial’ taxi licences.
“We’re keeping an open mind.”