The Hong Kong government has set up an expert panel to look into issues regarding land supply and come up with proposals to ease the long-term housing problem.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor appointed the 30 members of the Task Force on Land Supply on Tuesday.
They will engage the community in discussions on different options and priorities with the goal of building consensus for further consideration by the government, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
Stanley Wong Yuen-fai, a veteran banker and a member of the Housing Authority, will chair the panel, while Dr. Greg Wong Chak-yan, a senior engineer and former chairman of the Kowloon City District Urban Renewal Forum, will serve as vice chairman.
The task force comprises 22 non-official and eight official members, including former Legislative Council chairman Jasper Tsang Yok-sing, Heung Yee Kuk vice chairman Cheung Hok-ming, and Wai Chi-sing, managing director of the Urban Renewal Authority.
Lam is taking a different approach from her three predecessors who had also formed similar panels with their members being mostly government officials.
A government spokesman said the task force is made up of members coming from various professional disciplines, including planning, engineering, architecture, surveying and environment, as well as members from the academia, think tanks, social services, housing development and district administrations.
With their wealth of experience and expertise, the members are expected to come up with constructive ideas and effectively engage the community in discussions, the spokesman said.
The task force, whose 18-month term begins on Sept. 1, is set to hold its first meeting next Wednesday.
Asked if the panel can complete its job before its term ends — similar ones were given two to three years — Lam told the media that the shorter term of the task force means finding more land for housing purposes is imperative.
Stanley Wong said he is confident the task force can meet its objectives during the next 18 months, but his deputy Dr. Greg Wong is less optimistic, saying time is too pressing.
Meanwhile, some members have expressed their opinions on some controversial land supply issues.
Stephen Wong Yuen-shan, deputy executive director and head of Public Policy Institute at Our Hong Kong Foundation, said he is in favor of reclaiming land in southern Cheung Chau before moving the Kwai Chung Container Terminal there so that more housing estates can be built in urban areas.
He said developing Tuen Mun and Tseung Kwan O could create more land as well.
Professor Chau Kwong-wing, a University of Hong Kong real estate and construction professor who proposed filling up Plover Cove Reservoir to provide new land for housing, said he disagrees with the proposal to develop sites near country parks despite their relatively lower ecological value.
According to Apple Daily, at least seven of the appointed members had voiced their support to develop part of the country parks or fill up Plover Cove Reservoir and turn it into residential estates.
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